Should Inheritance Be Distributed Equally Between Siblings in California

Should Inheritance Be Distributed Equally Between Siblings in California? In the unfortunate event of a family member’s demise, the distribution of their estate commonly involves allocating assets among their surviving spouse, other relatives, and individuals named as beneficiaries in their will.

This division becomes particularly intricate for individuals with siblings, adding an extra layer of complexity to the inheritance proceedings.

Therefore, it is imperative to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire process before delving into the specifics outlined in a sibling’s will.

This proactive approach ensures clarity and facilitates a smoother navigation through the intricacies of the inheritance process.

Should Inheritance Be Distributed Equally Between Siblings in California
Settling an estate involves distributing assets according to the deceased’s will and determining the inheritance order after a loved one’s passing: Photo source (

What Is Inheritance?

When distributing a decedent’s estate to their heirs, we use a sequence of inheritance. Siblings typically do not receive priority in the line of succession.

In this situation, we consider intestacy and intestate succession. These concepts play a significant role in addressing inheritance issues.

Intestacy occurs when a person dies without leaving a will or when their will does not include a portion of their property.

Probate court will likely administer their estate (including all assets and debts), following the intestacy laws of their state.

Intestate succession divides the deceased’s inheritance among heirs. The sequence generally prioritizes the partner or spouse, children (both biological and adopted), and living parents.

Grandchildren, particularly if parents are no longer alive, might inherit assets.

In the absence of a surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, or parents, siblings inherit the estate.

Sibling inheritance laws apply when a person dies without creating a will or trust, or when all the beneficiaries designated in the will have passed away.

Do All Siblings Share Their Deceased Sibling’s Inheritance?

The share each child receives from their sibling’s estate through intestacy hinges on the number of siblings the deceased had and whether there is a surviving spouse, as per California inheritance laws.

In California, a sibling can inherit from their sibling’s intestate estate only if there is a blood relation or legal adoption by the same parents.

Conversely, non-adoptive foster children and stepchildren do not automatically have a claim. However, under specific conditions, a foster child or stepchild may inherit:

  1. If raised with the deceased since childhood.
  2. If possible, adopted and integrated potential siblings.

A sibling receives no inheritance from their sibling’s estate if a parent never formally adopted them.

If parents recognize a child born outside their marriage and actively contribute financially to the child’s upbringing, the child may be entitled to a share of a settled estate.

How Do Siblings Disinherit Their Brothers and Sisters?

Siblings occasionally attempt to disinherit one another in a will, assuming a particular line of inheritance to prevent their siblings from receiving any portion of the deceased’s estate.

Other times, the reasons for disinheritance are unique to each individual and can vary significantly. Three specific justifications for excluding relatives from a will include:

  1. Strife Between Family Members: When disagreements among family members become irreconcilable, some choose to resolve the matter by disinheriting those involved.
  2. Discipline: If a family member consistently overspends or mismanages finances, a parent may disinherit them to impart a lesson on financial responsibility and value.
  3. Lack of Relationship: When a parent and child have had virtually no meaningful interaction, the parent may choose to disinherit the child.

Individuals drafting their wills must explicitly state their decision to deny an inheritance to a sibling or other relative.

Simply omitting them from the document is insufficient. Instead, the will documents need to expressly outline these clauses, specifying the exclusion of these individuals from receiving an inheritance.

If someone initially plans to disinherit family members but later changes their mind and decides to include them, they must promptly update their will.

Read more: How is inheritance be split between siblings?


  1. Should siblings receive the same inheritance?
    • Siblings typically share property equally unless the will specifies otherwise.
    • The decision to sell, buy out, or jointly own inherited property is up to the siblings.
  2. How is inheritance split between siblings?
  3. Is my sibling entitled to more inheritance than me?
    • If there is no will, each sibling has an equal entitlement to the estate.
    • Siblings may seek a larger share if they provided specialized care or increased their support for the deceased.
  4. Is inheritance tax split between siblings?
    • California doesn’t have an inheritance tax; the tax depends on familial ties and the deceased’s state.
    • Surviving spouses are exempt, and immediate family members may receive a tax-free amount with reduced rates depending on the state.

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