You probably believe that you don’t have an estate plan. However, everyone already has an estate plan. It’s not a very good one, but it’s a plan.
The people who write California laws know that too many people never get around to writing even so simple a thing as a handwritten will. Many more than half of the people who die every year, (up to 85% according to some statistics!) have done nothing at all to express an opinion as to how their assets should be distributed or how their spouses, partners or children should be taken care of. If the government had to start from scratch to figure out what to do with each such person, it would take forever.
To avoid chaos when these people die without plans (“intestate” is the word), the state tried to figure out what people would have written if they’d ever gotten around to writing a will or trust. Every state has laws of “Intestate Succession” to determine who will get what when someone dies without a valid will or other estate plan. What these laws do depends on whether the person who dies is married, in a Registered Domestic Partnership, or is single. What the laws do depends on what relatives the person has: children, parents, siblings, etc.
The laws of intestate succession are extremely complicated, and you don’t need to know all of the details. What you should understand is that these laws are geared toward some mythical Everyman. By definition, they won’t be tailored to YOU and YOUR family situation. In my next blog, I’ll explain how it works.
The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice on your matter. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (this blog generally reflects California law). No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any be implied. Nothing in this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. You can contact us at 707-523-0480