If you die without a will or trust, the state determines who will be your ultimate heirs. This distribution plan can be found in the intestacy statues of each state. The applicable state can be either the location of your legal residence (personal property), or the state in which your assets are located (real property). In the state of California, for example, the law requires that without a valid will or trust in place, community property goes entirely to the surviving spouse, and separate property goes to the surviving spouse and children (if any), in this order: If the decedent had only one child, the spouse gets half and the child gets half. If the decedent had more than one child, the spouse gets one-third and the children divide two-thirds among them equally. (The children, if any, of predeceased children take their parent’s share.) If the decedent leaves no spouse or direct lineal descendants, parents (or their lineal descendants if they are predeceased) would take the estate.