Many people in California wonder whether they actually need a will. The truth is that most people should have some kind of estate plan in place when they die, even if they have only a few assets. TheBalance.com offers the following information on what happens when you die without a will or trust in place.

What Happens If You Don’t Have an Estate Plan

Also called dying intestate, dying without an estate plan leaves you vulnerable to state laws. In general, heirs usually end up being a spouse or child, and then your assets will progress to each of your next of kin. However, this may not reflect your final wishes regarding property or assets you hold. These decisions may also be contested, which can cost money and time for your family.

Components of a Will

Even the most basic of wills has several different components. First, you’ll need to specify how any outstanding debt will be paid. Next, you’ll need to discuss tax issues, which will also need to paid using your assets. You’ll also elect someone to handle the affairs of your estate after you’re gone and choose guardians for your minor children when applicable. Lastly, your will will name beneficiaries of your estate (which can include property as well as money).

Why a Trust Is Also Helpful

In some cases, having just a will is not enough. Establishing a trust will allow you to avoid probate, which is the process of proving a will’s validity and dealing with any disputes. To establish address you’ll need to fund your assets into the name of the trust, which a trustee will oversee. For instance, real estate deeds will be changed over to the name of the trust while retirement accounts and life insurance policy will name the trust as a beneficiary.