Estate planning is important for all responsible adults, and everyone should have a last will in place at a minimum. If you do not execute any estate planning documents you will die intestate, and the outcome of this is not consistent with most people’s wishes.
When you die without a last will or a trust in California directing the transfer of your assets, the condition of intestacy results. Under circumstances where you pass away without having a will or trust and no living relatives, the state of California would absorb your assets under escheat rules.
This is clearly something to avoid, because just about everyone has someone that they care about. And, even if this was not the case, there are certainly innumerable worthy charities that could use a boost.
One of the most interesting intestacy cases that has come along in recent years is unfolding in the state of New York at the present time. Back in 2012, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor named Roman Blum died in possession of assets valued in the vicinity of $40 million. He did not have any living family, and he did not leave behind any type of estate planning documents.
Under these circumstances, the state appoints a representative to handle the affairs of the estate. In this case, the representative has been empowered to spend some of the estate’s assets to engage genealogists in an effort to find any living blood relatives that may be out there.
If no blood relative is found within three years of the decedent’s passing, the state of New York will indeed assume ownership of the $40 million estate of Roman Blum. This is actually the largest intestacy case in the history of the state of New York according to reports.
If you die without a will or a trust and you do in fact have relatives, your property is distributed using intestate succession laws. In each state the laws may vary slightly, but they are built on a similar foundation. If you’re married and you have children, in the state of California your spouse inherits the entirety of your community property and one half or one third of your personal property. Your children would divide the rest.
If you are not married and you have no children, your parents would inherit everything. If you had children but no spouse, parents, or siblings, your children would be your sole heirs.
Even if you would not be dissatisfied with the way that the assets were distributed under these intestate succession rules, you should certainly take the time to execute a last will or a trust for a number of different reasons. It will simplify things, and it could save the heirs to the estate a lot of time, trouble and expense.
Our law firm regularly offers free Living Trust Seminars. To view a list of upcoming seminars, and to register, follow this link: Free Estate Planning Seminars