The probate process is one that many people find difficult to handle when their loved one passes away. While there are some cases that involve wills and other estate planning tools, some people pass away intestate.

A loved one who dies intestate doesn’t have a will or estate plan in place. This means that the loved ones who are left behind would have to determine where everything goes. However, all of this must be in accordance with the intestate laws. Here are some points to know if your loved one died intestate.

Asset limits in California

When a loved one passes away intestate and the estate meets certain requirements, you will have to go through the probate process. In California, the small estate limit is $150,000. If an estate is below this amount and 40 days have passed since the person’s death without anyone coming forward to claim part of the estate or to challenge the successor, the assets will go to the successor without having to go through the formal probate process.

The laws determine what happens

Many people get stuck on thinking that the concept of birthright rules here. This isn’t at all the case. The intestate laws in California determine who is going to get what. The property is divided into community property and separate property. How the property is handled after your loved one passes away is determined by the type of property and who on the successor list is still living. For example, a surviving spouse is on the list of successors. Siblings, children and parents are all on the list. In some cases, the list can even include nephews, nieces and other more distant relatives if there aren’t any of the closer relatives in the picture.

Probate isn’t quick or cheap

If your loved one’s estate is too large to bypass probate or if there is a challenge filed, you will have to work through the probate process. This isn’t an easy to cheap ordeal. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why some individuals do create an estate plan. The estate plan can save time and money.

The probate process can be rather complicated. It is imperative that you understand what points apply to your case. This might be able to help you save time and money as you work through handling your loved one’s estate during this trying time.