Depending on your circumstances in life, you may be among the many people who feel that you do not need to create an estate plan. You may think that your loved ones will automatically know what to do with your belongings after your passing and to generally settle your final affairs. However, you may want to remember that California state laws will play a role in how your final affairs are settled if you do not create a plan.
In addition to not wanting the court to decide who gets what and who handles your affairs, you may have more reasons to create an estate plan than you think. If you are on the fence about starting the planning process, you may want to ask yourself some questions.
Do you have children?
Having kids is a significant reason to start estate planning. A will is the only document that allows you to legally name a person to act as your children's guardian in the event of your passing. You certainly want your children to have a trusted and responsible person care for them in the event that you cannot, and choosing that person yourself could put you more at ease. In addition to providing care, a guardian of the estate could handle any assets your children inherit until they reach adulthood.
Do you want your information to go public?
Estate planning could also give you the opportunity to ensure that your affairs remain private after your passing. Many people do not want their estates to go through probate because it is a public process, and your information will become part of the public record. If you do not want that to happen, you could use planning tools like trusts that would keep your information and affairs more private.
Do you want to give to charity?
It is common for individuals to want charitable organizations to benefit from their estates. If you have similar wishes, you may want to set up a charitable trust or name a favorite charitable organization as a beneficiary in your will. You could indicate that the charity should receive a specified amount of money, a percentage of the estate or even just a specific item.
Have you fully assessed your circumstances?
These few questions give you just a basic idea of how estate planning could prove useful. If you have not considered your personal circumstances in a more in-depth manner, you may want to take the time to do so in order to see whether you truly want to risk passing away without a plan in place. If you do decide that the time has come to create a plan, you may want to work with an attorney to better understand your options.