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Home  »  Estate Planning   »   How To Divide An Estate Between Siblings In Northern California – Expert Guide!

How To Divide An Estate Between Siblings In Northern California – Expert Guide!

Estate distribution is not an easy task, and many factors need to be considered for this process. Such factors include whether the deceased person left a will, the number of surviving siblings, and their relationships (whether they’re step-siblings or biological siblings). 

Once all important factors are taken into account, the next challenge is how to fairly divide the inheritance among the siblings. But you don’t need to worry anymore, as we’ll explain everything about the estate distribution among siblings. 

We’ll address the key questions: how to divide an estate between siblings in Northern California and whether the siblings are legal heirs or not. If yes, then in what conditions can siblings inherit the estate. So let’s get started!

How Does California Inheritance Work? Will Vs. No Will Case 

Like any other state, the inheritance distribution operates through two primary methods. Either the estate will be distributed as per the Will or the court will distribute the assets among the beneficiaries as per California intestate law

The intestate law in California follows a specific order of priority. The court prioritizes immediate family members over extended relatives. For instance, if the deceased individual is survived by a spouse, children, and grandchildren, the estate will typically be divided among them. 

However, in cases where the decedent was unmarried, had no children, and both parents are deceased, the court will divide the estate among siblings. And if there are no surviving siblings, the court may consider nieces and nephews in the distribution process.

The Order of Inheritance Without A Will

You can read the priority order of California intestate law below: 

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and Nephews
  7. Grandparents
  8. Aunts and Uncles
  9. Cousins

Should Inheritance Be Distributed Equally Between Siblings?

If the deceased person has not left a Will and siblings are the beneficiaries according to the priority order, inheritance will be distributed equally among them. However, the presence of a Will can change this distribution. 

A Will allows a person to specify their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets. Some people may opt for equal shares among siblings, while others may choose to allocate a larger portion to a specific sibling. 

If the Will specifies a decision to allocate 50% of the inheritance to a particular sister or brother, the assets will be divided accordingly. While in the absence of Will, the court will adhere to equal distribution among siblings.

How To Divide Estate Equally Between Siblings?

The division of estate equally can be done through various ways. First thing that’s important to consider is what type of assets are left behind in the estate. For example, if someone has left about $500,000 in the bank account, the money will be equally distributed among the siblings. 

Complications may arise when the estate includes real estate holdings. Some siblings may like to sell the property while the others want to retain ownership. This situation is quite complicated as the property is one and all beneficiaries have different ideas about its management. 

There are a few options that can be followed in the situation of dispute about real estate assets. The siblings can have an open discussion with each other about the options and can decide which one suits them.

  • Selling The Real Estate: The best way to divide the real estate or any other asset between siblings is by selling them. The administrator will do the property valuation and oversee the sale process. Once the property is sold, the money will be divided among the siblings after clearing the debts and all other dues (if any).
  • Co-Ownership of The Real Estate: All siblings can choose to become co-owner of the real estate. In such cases, it’s crucial to establish a legal agreement with the help of an experienced lawyer. This agreement should outline management responsibilities, decision-making processes, and protocols for potential future sale of the property.
  • Buyout of The Siblings Share: If one or two siblings are emotionally attached to the real estate or property and prefer not to sell, they have the option to buy out the shares of the other siblings.
  • Dividing The Real Estate Land: The land can be divided among the siblings physically but this option comes with challenges. All siblings need to agree upon this decision, and the land has to be sufficiently large to be physically divided.

Do Step-Siblings Get Inheritance?

No, step-siblings don’t have the same right as the biological or legally adopted siblings of decedent parents when it comes to inheritance. As per California law, step-siblings are only entitled to the estate in specific conditions. 

The conditions are if the step-siblings are nominated as beneficiaries in the Will decedent has left. The next situation is if step-siblings were adopted legally by the decedent parents and have a good sibling relationship throughout life. 

Another condition that can be counted is if there’s no blood relative alive in the immediate and the extended family. The same case is for foster siblings; they’re also not considered beneficiaries unless they were legally adopted by the parents.

Final Words

In short, the answer to how to divide an estate between siblings in Northern depends on the situation of the assets and the presence of Will. In case the deceased person has left Will, the assets will be distributed accordingly. 

No Will means the court will intervene to determine the beneficiaries in accordance with California intestate law. If the siblings are the beneficiaries as per the priority order of the California intestate law, then the assets will be divided equally among all.

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Dustin MacFarlane’s primary focus is on Elder Law and protecting families and seniors. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Specialization — a rare distinction.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. MacFarlane worked in the Long Term Care industry. After becoming licensed to practice law in January of 2009, Elder Law quickly became his focus. Seeing the need during his former career, Mr. MacFarlane pursued Elder Law as a primary area of practice.

By Dustin MacFarlane

Dustin MacFarlane’s primary focus is on Elder Law and protecting families and seniors. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Specialization — a rare distinction.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. MacFarlane worked in the Long Term Care industry. After becoming licensed to practice law in January of 2009, Elder Law quickly became his focus. Seeing the need during his former career, Mr. MacFarlane pursued Elder Law as a primary area of practice.