What Happens to an Estate Without a Will?

What Happens to an Estate Without a Will?

Posted by The Sterling Law Group on February 21st - Estate Planning

Some people avoid talking about or dealing with any issues pertaining to what may happen after they pass on.  Others take the time to plan everything from their funeral to what should happen to anything of value they have. Drafting a will is an important part of this estate planning process. 

Below is some information about the risks of not having a will. To discuss your estate planning options, reach out to a trusted law firm today. 

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that puts down in writing your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and care for any of your children in case you pass on. It is an important document because it helps avoid protracted court proceedings between your loved ones. Without a will, there is no clear legal guidance regarding who should be in charge or who should get what. People might assume that only the wealthy should bother with a will. The fact is that a will is suitable for any adult. Especially if you have any amount of property or a child.

Dying Without a Will

If you die without a will, your wishes regarding what happens to your property or your surviving children maybe just that—wishes that may never happen. If you have any property worth fighting for, your heirs may spend money as they battle in court. heir’s lawyers will try to get a piece of what you have left behind. All this can be avoided by simply having a valid will.

However, because many people die without a will, California has enacted laws to determine what should happen to the estate of someone who dies without a will. When someone died without a will is known as “intestate“. The estate must be distributed in accordance with a formula established in the law. This might not match up with your wishes.

How California Intestate Law Works

Under California intestate law, only property or assets that would have passed under a will had the person who died made one, are subject to the state’s intestate law. If the assets could not have been included in the deceased person’s.  Then that property or asset might be distributed under the intestate law.

The probate court is charged with the responsibilty of determining who gets what after someone dies without a will. This is determined based on several questions that the probate judge will ask and obtain answers to. For example, the court would want to know whether the person who died without a will was married. If the answer is yes, then what happens to the property depends on whether it is community property, separate property, or some combination of these two types of ownership.

The probate court will then use guidelines provided under the law to determine who should get what share of the property or assets among survivors who have an interest in the estate under the law.

Speak with a Roseville Estate Attorney

If you need help preparing a will or have a situation where a loved one has passed on without a will, contact The Sterling Law Group for a consultation as soon as possible.

Serving Placer, Sacramento and surrounding counties

Need Help? Get in touch with us

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