One reason a probate lawyer needs to know about the probate code is to understand the laws of intestate succession. These laws determine who gets what if you die without a will. In general terms, if you die without a will in Sacramento, your assets will go to your closest relatives.
If you die with surviving children, but no spouse, parents or siblings, your children will inherit everything in your estate. If you die with a surviving spouse, but no children, parents or siblings, then your spouse inherits everything. Your parents are next in line, meaning, if you have no surviving spouse, children or siblings, they will inherit. The same is true, if only siblings survive you.
If you leave a spouse and children behind, your spouse inherits all of your community property and one-half or one-third of your separate property. Your children inherit one-half or two-thirds of your separate property.