Each state has its own rules concerning the death of one of its residents. However, there are many common rules that are found in most states. In California, the rules regarding decedents (A "decedent" is simply a term for the person who has died) is found in the California Probate Code.

When someone dies, there are two major matters that must be taken care of. First, the title of all property of the decedent must be transferred to the person who is legally entitled to claim it. Second, the heirs (persons who legally receive the decedents property) must pay any death taxes due.

What are death taxes? This will be discussed more fully later. Generally, any estate with assets over $5,450,000 (in 2016) will be taxed and death taxes must be paid. A new law was passed in 2013 gradually raising the exemption from death taxes to $5,450,000 in 2016 and in future years.