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The Aftermath of Not Having an Estate Plan in CA

The Aftermath of Not Having an Estate Plan in CA

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the past year has reminded us all that many people can pass away for unexpected reasons. If you suddenly become very ill or injured, you likely will not have the chance to sit down and carefully ponder what will happen to your property and family if you succumb to your condition. For this reason, many people have – and continue to – die without an estate plan in place.

What happens when you die without an estate plan will vary depending on your circumstances, though one thing is true – California law and probate courts will determine how your estate is settled while you and your family have little to no say. There can also be complications before you pass away while you are incapacitated in the hospital.

Not Having a Power of Attorney or Advance Health Directive

Estate plans not only address what happens after you die, but also what happens should you become incapacitated due to injury or illness. When you cannot take care of your own affairs, a durable power of attorney allows you to designate someone else to step in. When others are making your healthcare decisions for you, an Advance Health Directive allows you to inform them of your wishes.

If you do not have a power of attorney in place, the court might appoint someone to serve as your guardian. This might not be the person you would want in charge of your affairs. If you do not have an Advance Health Directive, close family members or healthcare providers might make decisions for your care that might be contrary to your own.

Not Having a Will or Trust

Wills are effective estate planning tools that allow you to name the beneficiaries of your estate, how your property should be distributed, and who should be put in charge of caring for your minor children should they be left parentless. A trust can also allow you to dictate how property is distributed, and your instructions can be more detailed than in a will. Further, all trust property can be passed on without going through the probate process.

Passing away without a will or trust is referred to as “dying intestate.” When this happens, the following occur:

  • The probate court will appoint the personal representative of the estate instead of you choosing who that will be
  • California intestacy laws will determine who gets your property, who might not be the beneficiaries you would select
  • The court will designate someone to be the guardian of your minor children, who might not be the guardian you would want

Consult with a Santa Ana Estate Planning Attorney Today

Passing away without an estate plan looks very different from having a comprehensive estate plan in place. Having the right plan makes the process easier for your family and preserves the best interests of your loved ones and your property. The Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai can help you begin or update an effective estate plan. Contact us online or call 714.694.1200 to learn how a Santa Ana estate planning lawyer can help.

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