Determination of Heirship Attorney in Los Angeles, California

The death of a loved one is always an emotionally devastating time for the family. You and other surviving family members may be grieving the loss of your loved one while also trying to make sense of the estate administration process for which you are entirely unprepared.

The situation becomes particularly frustrating if you have not been named as the heir. When this happens, you may have to go through a complex legal process called “determination of heirship” if your goal is to protect your right to any property of the estate.  

Rodney Gould can guide you through any legal issue or dispute that arises after a loved one's passing. This includes determining heirship. As a seasoned probate and estate attorney in Los Angeles, California, Rodney Gould understands the stress and anxiety that can accompany the process of proving your right to an inheritance.

If you need help or have questions, contact Law Office of Rodney Gould. The law firm serves clients throughout Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, and Studio City.  

Understanding Heirship

The term “heirship” refers to an individual’s legal right to inherit property. This right is based on the laws of intestate succession, which dictate how a deceased person’s property will be distributed among the heirs if the decedent does not leave behind a Last Will and Testament or other documents specifying how their assets should be distributed after their passing. The laws of intestate succession vary from one state to another.  

The Laws of Intestate Succession in California

California’s laws of intestate succession are found in California Probate Code § 6401. Whenever someone dies without a will or other documents addressing the distribution of their assets, their estate enters what is known as “intestacy.”  

In the absence of a will, California’s intestate succession laws dictate the order in which relatives inherit the estate. These laws ensure that the deceased’s property is passed down to their closest relatives such as the deceased’s surviving spouse or partner, children, parents, siblings, and extended relatives.  

Understanding the laws of intestate succession plays a pivotal role when trying to determine heirship. For this reason, if you wonder whether you will inherit anything after your relative dies, you might want to speak with a determination of heirship attorney. 

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What Is Probate and When Is It Required?

Probate is a court-supervised legal process of administering and distributing a deceased person's estate. It involves validating the will (if the decedent left one), paying off any outstanding debts and unpaid taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful heirs. Probate ensures that the estate distribution is done according to the law. 

Not all estates must go through probate. Whether or not probate is necessary depends on the size and complexity of the estate, as well as the types of assets involved. In California, probate is typically required in the following situations: 

  • Large estates. If the total value of the deceased's estate exceeds $184,500, probate is generally required, according to the official website of the Judicial Branch of California.  

  • Real estate with no ownership. If the deceased/s estate includes real property that is not held in a trust, probate may be necessary to transfer ownership. 

  • No beneficiary designations. Assets that do not have designated beneficiaries (e.g., certain bank accounts, investment accounts) may need to pass probate to go to the rightful heirs. 

For smaller estates, California law offers simplified probate procedures that are faster and less costly than traditional probate. If the estate is valued at $184,500 or less and does not include real property, heirs can use an affidavit to claim their inheritance without going through formal probate.

Alternatively, a surviving spouse can use the Spousal Property Petition to transfer property without formal probate if the estate primarily consists of community property or joint tenancy assets. 

How Can Rodney Gould Help? 

Rodney Gould knows that intestacy and probate laws can be a burden to handle, especially at a time when you are experiencing a great loss. That is why Rodney Gould helps the heirs of deceased persons establish their relationship to the decedent and their legal right to inherit assets.

He can assist you with petitioning the court to establish heirship if you have not been named as an heir or the deceased named you in their estate plan, but the documents were not properly recognized by the court. 

Determination of Heirship Attorney Serving Los Angeles, California

In over three decades of legal experience, Rodney Gould has helped numerous clients establish heirship and secure their right to inheritance. The determination of heirship attorney can answer your questions during a free phone consultation and help you navigate intestacy and probate laws so you can claim your right to heirship. Reach out today to discuss the best course of action for your situation.