In California and throughout the United States, families often strive to help their parents, siblings and other immediate relatives avoid stress in life. Taking careful estate planning steps while one is still of sound mind helps to achieve this in the here and now, and quite possibly in the future, as well. Consequently, not doing anything to prepare a will or other documents regarding personal assets, inheritances or related issues might lead to complicated and stressful situations for loved ones when probate issues arise after a death.
Certain situations often develop after a person’s death that bring shock and confusion to a family. For instance, as in recent circumstances following rock star Prince’s death, who died without a will, people have come forward claiming to be his illegitimate children. In similar matters, biological siblings or other survivors may be greatly troubled by such news, not to mention the complications this might cause if estate planning is not in place.
In addition to the apparent benefits that careful estate planning can bring, keeping an estate plan updated when lifestyle or other significant changes occur is equally vital. When spouses die or second marriages are entered, an out-of-date plan might create confusion when the time comes to distribute the estate owner’s assets. Later acquired assets not listed in an estate plan can also cause problems and confusion.
In situations when a person’s California estate becomes intestate (meaning that he or she died without a will) state law prevails when determining how assets will be divided. There are guidelines to help determine who receives what. Typically, a surviving spouse becomes the primary beneficiary, followed by any surviving direct descendant. To avoid surprises and complications after a death, contacting an attorney for estate planning help ahead of time is typically a prudent decision.
Source: wilmingtonbiz.com, “Failure To Write, Update A Will Can Create Crisis For Survivors“, Susan Willet, June 1, 2016