When a loved one dies, there will be a lot of questions about what his or her estate says, and what legal processes will be in place to transfer his or her assets and properties to their heirs and beneficiaries. We focus a lot of our attention on the person who makes the estate — but what about the people who stand to benefit from the estate? What are there rights when an estate is executed?

To begin, the estate itself obviously dictates the conversation. What that person wanted for his or her assets and property will trump almost anything. However, there are circumstances where the will or the individual’s last wishes can be challenged. For example, if the individual was unduly influenced in his or her old age, or if they lacked the mental capacity to realize what they were doing with their will or estate, then an heir could mount a legal challenge.

When someone dies in California, if they are married, their spouse will have some decisions to make. As a community property state, that means that the surviving spouse has one-half ownership of every asset obtained during the marriage (with some exceptions). The deceased spouse could give his one-half ownership of the assets to his or her spouse through his will — or he or she could give it someone else. Prenuptial agreements can also play a role in property ownership after a spouse dies.

Children of a deceased parent rarely have guaranteed rights to any property, unless it is so outlined in a will. But, there is a provision for accidental omissions, and the law will err on the side of caution if a will does not refer to a child but the omission appears to be an accident.

Source: FindLaw, “Inheritance Law and Your Rights,” Accessed April 26, 2016