A common refrain that you hear from estate planning experts in Los Angeles is that you need to start preparing your will. We here at The Law Office of Matthew C. Yu say the same thing to our clients. We encourage this is because we understand how hard you work throughout your life to accumulate assets in order to pass them on to your loved ones. Should you die without a will, then you lose control over who gets what.
You may be wondering what will happen if you never prepare a will. Section 6402 of the California Probate Code describes the state's guidelines for intestate succession ("intestate" is the legal term applied when you die without a will). Per these guidelines, your estate would pass to your surviving spouse upon your death. If your spouse preceded you in death, then your estate would pass in equal shares to your surviving issue (your "issue" are your children, grandchildren and other direct descendants).
It is in those cases where you have no surviving spouse or issue where things start to get complicated. According to the law, your estate would then be passed on as follows:
- To your surviving parents
- To your surviving siblings
- To your surviving grandparents or their issue
- To your predeceased spouse's issue
- To your next of kin
- To your predeceased spouse's parents
While dying without a will may not necessarily preclude your family from receiving your assets, it does not allow you to try and benefit any other parties not named in the intestate succession guidelines. For example, if you want to leave something to a friend, community group or charitable organization, you can only do so by stipulating it in a will.
More information on managing your estate can be found by continuing to explore our site.