There are people that are under the impression that the government will step in and take care of everything if you fail to put an estate plan in place. Many of these individuals intend to execute some type of strategy in the future, but they are in no hurry, because they feel as though there is a safety net.
If you were to die without a will or a trust, in a legal sense, the condition of intestacy would exist. Under these circumstances, it is true that the state would step in to provide supervision during the estate administration process.
The court would appoint a personal representative to act as the hands-on administrator. Creditors would be notified about your passing, and valid final debts would be paid from assets that comprise the estate.
Ultimately, the court would approve of the distribution of the assets using the intestate succession laws of the state of California. That may sound neat and tidy, but your true wishes may not be carried out if you allow this to take place through your inaction.
For example, if you are married and you have no children, you would probably want your surviving spouse to inherit all of your intestate property. In our state, this would not happen if you die intestate and you have a parent that is still living.
Your spouse would inherit all of the community property, but they would share your separate property with your parent or parents. They would each get 50 percent of the separate property.
This is just one of many scenarios that can play out that may not be consistent with your true wishes. There is no reason to take risks with intestacy when affordable legal counsel is just a phone call away.
Another thing to consider is the state’s potential role in your life if you were to become incapacitated as a senior citizen. You should be aware of the fact that a very significant percentage of people in their 80s become unable to make sound decisions on their own.
How significant? Over 30 percent of the oldest old contract Alzheimer’s disease. This is not the only cause of dementia, and cognitive impairment is not the only form of incapacity.
If you do nothing to prepare for incapacity, the state could step in to appoint a conservator to manage your affairs, and you would become a ward.
Most people would prefer to choose someone to act as their representative in advance, but far too many fail to take action when they can.
You do not have to be one of them, because you can include an incapacity planning component within your estate plan. When it comes to financial decision-making, you could use a living trust to state your final wishes and name a disability trustee.
A durable power of attorney for property could be added to empower someone to account for assets that you never conveyed into the trust.
Advance directives are part of this equation as well. You can name someone to handle your financial decision-making through the execution of a durable power of attorney for health care.
With a living will, you can state your wishes regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures if you are ever in a terminal condition with no hope of recovery.
We Are Here to Help!
As you can see, if you roll the dice without an estate plan, unintended negative consequences can come about. Statistics show that most people are completely unprepared, and one of the reasons why they procrastinate is because they really do not know where to begin.
This is understandable to some extent, but we are here to simplify the process for you. One of our Los Angeles estate planning lawyers would be glad to gain an understanding of your situation and provide you with recommendations.
If you decide to move forward, we can help you establish a custom crafted estate plan that is perfect for you and your family.
You can schedule a consultation appointment right now if you give us a call at 310-337-7696. There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message, and if you reach out electronically, you will receive a prompt response.