Intestacy is California’s Will.
Without a will or trust the intestacy laws of California intervene. Intestacy law identifies who is the next of kin to inherit. Intestacy is by class. The surviving spouse is the default next of kin. If there is no surviving spouse, then the children of the deceased inherit. If there is no spouse or children, parents inherit and if no parents survive, brothers and sisters inherit. But this fairly straight forward order is complicated by the death of a person who is in a class of heirs, such as children.
In intestacy, the closet surviving next of kin creates a class of heirs. For example, the deceased has three children, two living and one deceased. Because there are living children, identification of heirs stops at the class of children. But the deceased child’s own children, (grandchildren) become heirs and are part owners of the deceased’s assets.