Who Are The Next of Kin in California?

“Next of kin” under California law simply means – the closest living family members to survive a decedent or the deceased person who leaves behind property and assets under an estate. The inheritance of the decedent’s estate flows to the next of kin in this order —

  1. Surviving spouse or registered domestic partner
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and Nephews
  7. Grandparents
  8. Aunts or uncles
  9. Cousins
  10. Issue of predeceased spouse

When Does Having Next of Kin Matter?

The status of your next of kin will come into play if any of these life-or-death scenarios occur:

  1. In case of mental or physical incapacity, it is critical for the next of kin to fulfill the task of making health care decisions on your behalf
  2. In case you die without a will in California, your next of kin will inherit your assets under the state “intestate succession” laws.

Who Else Can Qualify As Your Next of Kin?

1. Half-Relatives. “Half” relatives inherit as if they were “whole.” That is, your sister with whom you share a father, but not a mother, has the same right to your property as she would if you had both parents in common. (Cal. Prob. Code § 6406.)

2. Posthumous Relatives. Relatives conceived before but born after you die, inherit as if they had been born while you were alive. (Cal. Prob. Code § 6407.)

3. Immigrant Relatives. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens of the United States. (Cal. Prob. Code § 6411.)

Who Among Your Next of Kin Gets What

In California law, your next of kin are also your intestate heirs. Intestate heirs are your closest family members who will inherit your estate if you die without a will. Who inherits what depends on who survives you as the decedent.

In determining who among your next of kin gets what in California, refer to the categories in the diagram below. The way it works is that you only move to the next item in the diagram if the people in the previous category did not survive the decedent.

Learn more about intestate laws in California to get started on Estate Planning and secure the future for your next of kin. Book your free consulting session.

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