What Happens if you Die Without a Will in California?June 30, 2017
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Estate planning is an important step every competent adult should take—regardless of age, financial situation, or current health. None of us know what the future holds; documenting your wishes today can help ensure they’ll be carried out no matter what happens.
There are several myths and misconceptions about estate planning every California resident should understand. If you are surprised by any of these, it’s important to talk to a California estate planning attorney who can help make sure your plan is doing what you need it to do.
Myth: Having a Will prepared means that all of your assets will pass according to the Will.
Fact: In reality, there are many assets that pass outside of your Will. If you own something jointly with someone else, or if you have named beneficiaries on life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts or other assets, those assets will pass according to those terms—even if your Will says something completely different. It is important to look at everything when you finalize your estate plan.
Myth: Preparing a Will means your estate will not need to go through probate court.
Fact: A Will, by itself, will not avoid probate court. If you want your loved ones to be able to avoid potentially costly and lengthy court proceedings after your death, you should work with an estate planning attorney to determine whether it makes sense to use a trust or structure ownership/beneficiaries in a way that will help you avoid court. Not every estate needs to go through probate in California. If your assets would trigger probate, your attorney will be able to help you determine the best option to meet your goals.
Myth: The personal representative named in your Will has authority to handle your financial affairs during your lifetime.
Fact: Your personal representative doesn’t have any authority until after your death. If you want to authorize someone to step in to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated, you may want to consider creating a power of attorney. Talk to your estate planning attorney about different options and considerations.
As you can see, estate planning can be a confusing process. But, it doesn’t have to be. Our team of experts has the experience and ability to tailor a comprehensive estate plan for you. After a thorough review of your assets we will present you with various estate planning techniques that will meet your needs no matter what type of estate you have. Contact us today to get started!