Figuring out who want to inherit your assets might seem easy enough, but without proper planning you and your loved ones might find yourself in a crisis. This is because even those who think they have the simplest estate and only want their direct loved ones to inherit could have their assets distributed against their wishes if they fail to utilize a will or trust. This is because passing away without an estate plan leaves your estate susceptible to the state’s intestacy laws, which could have profound implications, especially if you’re part of a blended family.
A look at California’s intestacy laws
As we discussed recently on the blog, if you pass away without a will then depending on your familial circumstances, certain individuals will inherit your assets. For example, if you have a spouse and children, then your spouse will inherit all of your community property and then half or a third of your separate estate, depending on how many children you have, with your children inheriting the remainder.
How intestacy laws affect a blended family
If you’re part of a blended family, then you need to understand how intestacy laws could affect your asset distribution. For example, if you want your biological children from a previous marriage to inherit your estate after your current spouse’s passing, then you’ll need an estate planning vehicle such as a will or a trust to secure that outcome. Otherwise, your spouse will inherit the bulk of your estate with no obligation to pass it on to your children. This might even prevent your biological grandchildren from inheriting those assets that you’d like for them to inherit.
Use the tools at your disposal to your advantage
Fortunately, you can completely bypass the state’s intestacy laws and take control of your estate. There are a number of estate planning tools out there that can help you, including in-depth will and trusts that can set terms and conditions of asset distribution, thereby giving you significant control over your estate for years or even decades to come.
Knowledge is key in estate planning, though, so it’s best to educate yourself as fully as possible before settling on a plan that you think is right for you. Attorneys who are experienced in this area of the law can help guide you through the process to help you ensure that your estate and your loved one’s are protected, and that crises are avoided.