You may have recently found yourself looking over many of the possessions you have accumulated over the years. Some of them may hold a considerable amount of meaning to you, while others you may simply have obtained out of necessity or passing interest. Nonetheless, you may still have begun wondering what would happen to your assets after your death.
Many people find themselves considering this idea at some point in their lives, and it can often lead to the start of estate planning. You may wonder whether creating an estate plan is necessary or even useful for your situation. However, estate planning could offer benefits to anyone, and if you do not create a plan, California state law dictates who receives your assets.
Dying without a valid will is known as dying intestate. In such cases, your wishes for property distribution and other tasks related to closing your estate remain unknown by your surviving family and the court. As a result, the court decides who should act as personal representative and how to distribute your assets. When it comes to intestate succession, your personal circumstances could play a significant role in who receives what property. For example:
- Single, no children - If you have no spouse or children, your parents may end up with your remaining assets. If your parents have already passed, any siblings you have -- including half-siblings -- will receive a portion of your property. Without parents or siblings, more distant relatives may obtain your property.
- Single with children - If you have no spouse but do have children, your children will inherit the entirety of your estate. The court should divide your property equally among them.
- Married, no children - In the event that you have a surviving spouse and no children, your spouse will likely take over your assets, or the court may divide separate property between your spouse, parents and siblings.
- Married with children - If you have children, your spouse should receive your entire estate as long as your surviving spouse is the biological parent of your children.
Other scenarios could also come into play such as whether you lived with your partner unmarried.
If you do not like the idea of not knowing for certain where your assets will go after your death, or if you would like for certain individuals to receive specific assets, you may wish to consider estate planning. Creating a will or other documents could help you make your wishes known.