Some estimates suggest that more than half of all people in the nation die without any set plan in place to protect their estates. Apparently, this has created problems for many families in California and other states when distribution of assets come under the probate process. Those who wish to avoid such issues will want to consider seeking experienced estate planning guidance.

One couple had reportedly finalized their estate plan just days before the husband died. His death was sudden and unexpected, but his wife was able to immediately assume ownership of his assets. This may not have been the case had the death occurred with no plan in place.

Some appear to avoid the estate planning process because they misguidedly think it is something intended only for those who are wealthy. In fact, the size of an estate and amount of financial wealth are not as relevant as making certain that one’s wishes and instructions are documented with regard to whom one would like to inherit any assets that do exist. Typically, a probate court will distribute assets among next of kin according to the state’s laws of intestacy if an estate owner failed to execute a plan.

This may create problems when the decedent intended someone else to inherit his or her assets. There are various laws in California and all other states that govern estate planning matters. Anyone with questions or concerns about how best to protect assets or prevent potential discord between family members down the line may request a consultation with a probate and estate administration attorney to discuss the issue.

Source: cnbc.com, “No will or estate plan? Big problem for you and your heirs“, Sarah O’Brien, Aug. 9, 2016