What Happens if I Die without a Will in California?

Worrying about how your assets will be distributed after death is something that can be avoided if you take the time to set up a will and figure out the details of your estate. If you were to pass away without a will, the laws of intestate succession are used to determine who in your family will be inheriting your assets. There are different rules depending on if at time of death you are married or single, if you have children, and if you have grand children or other relatives. If you are married, the first item to figure out is your property, which includes community property, separate property, and can include a combination of both types. Without a will and without any other surviving relatives, the the property will go to your spouse, who may have to file a spousal property petition to establish ownership. If you have surviving children, parents, or siblings, the property will be distributed to family members according to the California laws. If you have no will, depending on what type of property and assets you own, your estate may have to go into probate. Someone in your family would have to file to begin the probate process. Most probates occurring in the state of California are handled using the state’s Independent Administration of Estates Act. This act lets the executor of the state take care of many matters without having to constantly ask permission from the probate court. The executor can usually handle some transactions, like selling estate property or paying taxes, but selling real estate requires approval from the probate court. Even...

Estate Planning Basics

Estate planning is a process that involves many things and many people – including your family, important individuals, your assets, and your preferred charitable organizations. Estate planning can sound scary, but having a plan is the best way to be prepared for the unexpected. Estate planning will help you to figure out what your assets are actually worth – and get all that information down on paper. The estate plan is to help with choosing who will inherit your assets, who will take care of important matters in your life, who will care for your children, as well as who is responsible for making decisions on your behalf. Everyone needs estate planning, no matter if your estate is large, medium, or small. Every person should have a plan in writing so that if a situation arises that makes you unable to care for yourself or make decisions on your behalf with your input. If you don’t have a plan, a judge will be assigned to distribute your assets, and the judge will do this by following the laws of the state, also known as intestate succession. There are different types of documents that go into estate planning, including both wills and trusts. There are also living trusts, that are different than traditional wills. If there is no will, your assets will be heading into probate, which is a court-supervised process for transferring your assets to your beneficiaries. If your estate goes through the probate process, the entire estate plan, including the value of your assets, will become public record. If you want to make sure you have a plan on paper...