People who are unprepared from an estate planning perspective often have many different excuses or theories. Many individuals go forward with the idea that everything automatically falls into place, even if you do not have a will or a trust.
If you were to pass away without any estate planning documents, you would die intestate. Property that was in your direct personal possession would become probate property, and it would be distributed in accordance with the intestate succession laws of the state of California.
You may be under the impression that you do not need a last will, because you want your spouse to inherit everything that you have after you are gone. The idea is that your spouse automatically assumes ownership of all of your property after your passing.
In reality, things do not necessarily work that way in the state of California. Under intestate succession laws, your spouse would inherit everything if you didn’t have any children, siblings or parents still living, but if you did have children, siblings and/or parents surviving you as well, things would be different.
In California, if you die with your spouse and children still living, your spouse would inherit all of the community property and either one half or one third of your separate personal property. Your children would inherit the remaining portion of your probate estate.
If you have no children living but you have a spouse and parents still alive when you die, your spouse would not inherit all of your separate property. Your spouse would inherit all of the community property, but your parents and your spouse would equally divide the separate property.
When you have a spouse and siblings surviving you but no surviving parents or children, your siblings would be entitled to a portion of your separate property. The siblings would get half of the separate personal property, and your spouse would get the other half, but your spouse would inherit all of the community property.
As you can see, if you decide not to create a will because you are under the impression that your spouse will inherit everything under any and all circumstances, you are making a big mistake. If you plan your estate in a fully informed and effective manner, you can be sure that your assets are distributed in precise accordance with your wishes after you pass away.
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Everyone should have a solid, custom crafted estate plan in place, and you should act in a fully informed manner to make sure that you are protecting all of your loved ones.
We would be glad to help if you would like to take action. Our firm offers free consultations, and you can send us a message through our contact page if you would like to discuss your unique personal situation with an experienced attorney: Campbell CA Estate Planning Attorneys.