If Dad bought a house solely in his name, can Stepmother claim a community property interest after Dad has died? Perhaps yes. The answer lies at tricky intersections of California probate law and family law. While family law governs spouses during their lifetimes and upon divorce, the death of one spouse complicates the picture. It
(Editor’s Note: The Court of Appeal granted rehearing on December 2, 2019 and later depublished the portion of its opinion discussed below such that it is no longer citable authority in California courts.)
It is widely understood in California that inherited assets, unlike assets earned from labor, are the separate property of the receiving spouse. But what if the assets do not come directly from a parent and instead pass from one sibling to another?
Inheritance for separate property purposes generally means direct inheritance, says the California Court of Appeal. That’s the lesson of In re Marriage of Deluca (2019) 41 Cal.App.5th 598.