CA Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Make Estate Planning a Part of Your New Year

What will happen if I die without an estate plan in California?


The New Year is a time of reflection and planning for many of us.  Making a few resolutions for the New Year is common practice for many.  While creating an estate plan may not be one of the first goals you think of for the coming year, making an estate plan could ultimately save your family from much heartache.  Consider taking the time this coming 2019 to sit down with an estate planning lawyer to get started protecting your family and future.

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Estate planning involves the process of setting out how your assets will be managed during your lifetime and who will receive your assets upon your death.  Every adult needs an estate plan, regardless of their age or the dollar value of their assets. To understand the importance of estate planning, it is vital to consider just what could happen if you die without an estate plan in the state of California.

If you pass away without an estate plan, a California court will be forced to distribute your assets per the laws of intestacy.  You will have no say in who receives what. Per intestacy laws, your assets could go to estranged family members or may not go to treasured loved ones. Even further, your entire estate will be reduced by taxation, attorney’s fees, and court fees.  Should you have minor children, the court will need to select their guardian. Additionally, if you become incapacitated before your death, California law will dictate who will make critical decisions regarding your health care and finances.

What Should My Estate Plan Consist Of?

Once you have made the decision to commit to creating an estate plan, your next dilemma is likely what exactly you need to do.  Estate planning is a highly individualized process and your ideal estate plan will depend in large part on your assets, family composition, and goals.  Every estate plan should have a Last Will and Testament which sets out who will receive what assets, nominates a guardian for your minor child, and an executor to your estate.  You will also need a financial and health care power of attorney to protect you in the event of your incapacity. Many people will benefit from one or more trusts. Contact an estate planning attorney for an individualized review of your estate planning needs.

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