A will or living trust is simple to create, and there really is no reason not to have one, or other estate planning tools. However, if you do not have a will, trust, or employ other estate planning tools, here is what happens if you pass away: Generally speaking, the California Probate Court will identify all of your assets and all of your debts. It will then assign someone to use the assets to pay your debts and distribute your remaining assets to your heirs.
While this may sound similar to what would happen even if you had a will, there are two important factors to consider. First is TIME. This process may take well over a year. Even if your assets and debts are small, and you have only only heir, the process of going through the Probate Courts can take over a year in California. Second is CONTROL. The court will equally distribute your assets amongst your heirs. This may or may not be what you want. Regardless, you will have no control over which heir receives a particular asset, or if the asset is sold and the funds from the sale are distributed.
Finally, another common question is what happens when you die without an heir? This question is in fact false. Everyone has an heir, and if you do not have a spouse, children, or other family members then your heir is the state you live in. That’s right, everything goes to the state. Therefore, California is a potential heir for all of us.
To discuss your estate plan, call or email us.