Lack of Estate Planning deprives you of determining who inherits from you. Those assets which you own in your individual name will be distributed to your heirs at the time of your death, as determined by California Probate Code Sections 6400-6414. When you die without a Will, you die “intestate”, and pursuant to these Probate Code Sections, your assets pass via “intestate succession”.
If you are married at the time of death, your spouse will inherit your community property share of the joint estate which you own with your spouse. Your separate property, such as an inheritance which you may have previously received from your relatives, will be distributed entirely to your surviving spouse if you have no surviving children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews. If you have a child, grandchild, or parents, your spouse will only receive one-half of the separate property, and the surviving child or heir will receive the other half. In the case of multiple children or heirs surviving, the spouse receives one-third of the separate property, and the rest is divided amongst the other heirs.
If you have no surviving spouse, your assets will be distributed equally amongst your surviving children, if none, to your surviving grandchildren, if none, then to your parents, if no surviving parents, then equally to your siblings, if no siblings, then to your surviving grandparents, or if they are not surviving, then to their issue.
As you can see, the Probate Code has determined what they believe to be the proper succession of your assets based on who they view as your heirs. This may or may not be a suitable plan for you. For example, if it is your desire for your assets to pass to a partner, friend, or a more distant relative, you will need to directly name them as a beneficiary in your Will or Trust. Estate planning protects your heirs and your assets. Contact The Loftin Firm P.C. today to discuss your personal estate planning needs.