My last couple of posts have been about some simple options you can use if don’t have time to hire a California estate planning attorney to properly write your will. They are fine options but, as stated, you won’t know until after death if they worked out ok. Definitely having a specialist do your will is more suitable for most people. Again, I recommend your estate planning attorney be a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate law as determined by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.
However, what happens if you don’t hire an expert, you don’t employ a California statutory will and you do not write a handwritten will out? Then what? Well, that is where the laws of intestacy come in to play. The laws of intestacy are the rules for determining who should receive your estate if you don’t have a written plan. I like to say it’s the governor’s plan and he is planning how to distribute YOUR assets. To most people this does not make a lot of sense and thus they hire an estate planning attorney to get their will done properly.
Who gets the property according to the governor’s plan? It can be simple or complex depending on who dies when, what the family is, etc…. The general thought is that the assets would be distributed to the next of kin (or spouse) that most people would want to provide to; i.e. the “natural bounty.” However, what if I told you a “half blood” or half-sibling is treated as a whole!? That is true. Let’s say your dad had another child, out of wedlock, before he married your mom. At your death, if you don’t have kids or a spouse this half-blood could get a share of your estate. That is just one strange outcome that the laws of intestacy can impose.
Get your plan set up properly and avoid this type of outcome.
Contact me with questions.