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Ancestral property rules generally apply only when the surviving spouse dies intestate without lineal descendants and without a surviving spouse. Ancestral property rules provide that former in-laws of the surviving spouse may be entitled to inherit certain property in the survivor's estate. Ancestral property rules do not apply to personalty or when the intestate survives the first to die spouse by some specified number of years (usually 15). The former in-laws have the burden of proof under ancestral property statutes of establishing that the particular assets in the survivor's estate were former community property, separate property of the predeceased spouse, or quasi-community property. The former in-laws can trace former community property or separate property of the first deceased spouse through any changes of form after dissolution of the marriage. However, it is not settled whether tracing is allowed when original realty is sold for cash or traded for personalty. In addition, the in-laws may not tract beyond the survivor's unrestricted gift of the property.

The property that is generally subject to ancestral property rules is: 1 One-half of property that was community when the intestate's former spouse died. 2. One-half of the property separately owned by the intestate ...

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