The California Rules of Succession – Testate and Intestate

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An In-Depth Explanation with Examples

For those decedents who die intestate, succession is governed by Section 240 of the California Probate Code. For wills and trusts, additional options are codified in Sections 246 and 247. The statutory text is dense and hard to understand. Most internet resources lack detailed step-by-step directions on how to apply the rules. They also do not make it clear what exactly the differences are. The linked PDF is an attempt to close this gap.

  • We begin with a hypothetical family tree. Please enlarge the PDF to 150% for best viewing.
  • This tree has numerous members who have predeceased, which is vital for understanding the differences in the distribution schemes.
  • The family tree is arranged vertically to allow for a side-by-side comparison of the impact of the distribution schemes (§ 240, $ 246, and § 247) at different generational levels.
  • Living descendants are highlighted in bold, while deceased descendants are marked with a grey highlight and/or square brackets.
  • Following the family tree, there is a table that contains the relevant parts of Probate Code sections 240, 246, and 247.
  • After the table, there is a side-by-side example. This example is based on one provided in a December 1989 publication of the California Law Review Commission.
  • Lastly, there are step-by-step instructions that explain how the fractional amounts were calculated.

Download the PDF file here.

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