Part II - Rules of Succession When Decedent Dies Without a Will

In the Estate of Beckel, Doralee Verna Beckel (decedent) died without a will (intestate). Doralee had no surviving spouse, children, parents or siblings; therefore, according to the laws of intestate succession, Doralee's estate will then pass to her surviving first cousins and to the surviving issue of deceased first cousins.

Maureen Stanciu (estate administrator, petitioner and respondent) in her petition for determination of persons entitled to distribution, decided to limit distribution of the estate to the children of the predeceased first cousins (i.e. first cousins once removed). Any issue beyond that was excluded from the distribution. The trial court agreed with Maureen.

However, Kathleen Williams (assignee of the heirs of a more remote degree, objector and appellant) appealed the trial court's order contending that the surviving issue of a predeceased heir entitled to inherit is not limited to the first generation. The Court of Appeal agreed with Kathleen citing Probate Code sections 6402, subdivision (d), section 240 and section 50. The Court of Appeal further cited that under Probate Code section 50, the surviving issue is not limited to surviving children; rather issue includes all of a person's lineal descendants of all generations. Accordingly, it does not matter if the only issue that survived a predeceased first cousin are grandchildren, great grandchildren, or great, great grandchildren, no matter how remote the kinship is they are still entitled to their predeceased ancestor's share of the estate.

The trial court's order was therefore reversed and the matter was remanded for further proceedings. Costs on appeal were awarded to Kathleen Williams.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

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