Trustees and Beneficiaries has specific legal rights in California when husband or wife die.
When a husband dies, what is the wife entitled to?
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Surviving Spouses with Community & Separate Property Rights.
Surviving Spouses Can Receive Both Community and Separate Property. California is a community property state. This means all money or property earned during the marriage is vested automatically in equal shares between spouses. Upon one partner’s death, the surviving spouse may receive up to one-half of the community property. If there is no will or trust, surviving spouses may also inherit the other half of the community property and take up to one-half of the deceased spouse’s separate property.
“Omitted Spouse” in the California Probate Code
The probate term “omitted spouse” refers to a person who marries an individual who already has an executed estate plan. The individual then fails to change or amend after marriage. In such a scenario, the unmentioned spouse is “omitted” from the testamentary instruments.
The California Probate Code protects omitted spouses by allowing them to take the statutory share of the estate as discussed above, unless:
• The estate plan specifically disinherited the spouse.
• The spouse received sufficient assets outside the estate.
• The spouse executed a valid waiver (either by premarital agreement or other legally enforceable document or contract).
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It can be emotionally taxing for a grieving spouse to litigate against their loved one’s estate in probate court. However, omitted spouses must stand up for their marital rights or lose them forever. Charles Triay, the founder of Triay Law Office, has been practicing contested probate litigation for over 30 years. He has provided unsurpassed representation in notable cases throughout Northern California. Unlike other law firms, the Triay Law Office gives clients the option to pay attorney fees hourly or contingency. Don’t hesitate to contact our probate lawyers to assert your marital rights against an estate.
How does Social Security work when a spouse dies?
Can I Collect Their Social Security Benefits?
When a Social Security beneficiary dies, their surviving spouse is eligible for survivor benefits. A surviving spouse can collect 100 percent of the late spouse’s advantage if the survivor has reached full retirement age, but the amount will be lower if the deceased spouse claimed benefits before they reached full retirement age. (Full retirement age for survivor benefits differs from retirement and spousal benefits; it is currently 66 but will gradually increase to 67 over the next several years.)
If you were already receiving spousal benefits on the deceased’s work record, Social Security will, in most cases, switch you automatically to survivor benefits when the death is reported. Otherwise, you will need to apply for survivor benefits by calling the Social Security Administration: at 800-772-1213 or contacting your local Social Security office.
Many services are available online and by phone. Suppose you have a critical situation regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status. In that case, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment.
In most cases, a widow or widower qualifies for survivor benefits if he or she is at least 60 and has been married to the deceased for at least nine months. But there are a few exceptions to those requirements: If the late beneficiary’s death was accidental or occurred in the line of U.S. military duty, there’s no length-of-marriage requirement. You can apply for survivor benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled and the disability occurred within seven years of your spouse’s death.
If you care for children from the marriage under 16 or disabled, you can apply at any age. Whether you have wed again can also affect eligibility. You could not draw survivor benefits if the remarriage occurred before you turned 60 (50 if you are disabled). You regain eligibility if that marriage ends. And there is no effect on eligibility for survivor benefits if you remarry at or past 60 (50 if disabled).
The survivor benefit is generally calculated on the use your late spouse received from Social Security at the time of death (or was entitled to receive, based on age and earnings history, if they had not yet claimed benefits). The actual amount of your payment will differ according to your age and family circumstance. If you have reached full retirement age, you get 100 percent of the benefit your spouse was (or would have been) collecting. If you claim survivor benefits between age 60 and your full retirement age, you will receive between 71.5 percent and 99 percent of the deceased’s benefit. The percentage gets higher the older you are when you claim.
If you claim in your 50s as a disabled spouse, the survivor benefit is 71.5 percent of your late spouse’s benefit. If you apply based on caring for a child under 16 or disabled, you can collect 75 percent of the late spouse’s benefit, regardless of your age. Keep in mind that you will not receive a survivor benefit in addition to your retirement benefit; Social Security will pay the higher of the two amounts. If you are the divorced former spouse of a deceased Social Security recipient, you might qualify for survivor benefits on their work record.
Social Security’s earnings limit could affect your survivor benefit if you are below full retirement age and still working. It does not matter whether a surviving spouse worked long enough to qualify for Social Security independently. They can still collect benefits on the deceased spouse’s work record.
When settling the estate, it’s crucial to determine your tax liability to the federal government and the state where you live. The surviving spouse can typically inherit an unlimited amount of assets at the national level without paying the federal estate tax. Still, you may need to consult an attorney with knowledge of federal estate planning law and estate planning law governing the state in which you live. Also, consider drafting a will. Given the complexity of estate planning laws, a will is likely to provide you with greater control over how your assets are bequeathed to heirs.