A legal separation or divorce can have a profound effect on your estate planning. Under the California Probate Code, a “surviving spouse” has no inheritance rights if there is an “order purporting to terminate all marital or registered domestic partnership property rights.” Put another way, if you die without leaving a will, and you are legally separated from your spouse at the time of your death, he or she will not inherit under California intestacy law.
Court Rules Probate Code Language Does Not Apply to County Pensions
The Probate Code does not cover all property issues that may arise after you die. Many retirement and pension plans are governed by separate laws that allow you to designate a beneficiary independent from the provisions of your will or trust. A divorce or legal separation may not necessarily affect such designations.