In our world of Estate Planning, we often delve into subjects that are somewhat prickly. There’s a popular misconception that “everybody fights about money when someone dies.” (Not actually true.) And after all, the very essence of estate planning is coming to terms with the reality of one’s own mortality – not necessarily a rosy foundation on which to build.
But aside from that somewhat unpleasant aspect of our profession, one of the more amusing aspects is the nomenclature. Today’s topic: Intestacy – sounds like a gruesome disease (probably not as horrible as a topic for another day – per stirpes), but can be almost as bad. The laws of intestacy are the rules that govern the way in which assets are distributed to survivors of a decedent who dies with no will or living trust.
Leaving it up the California Probate Code to dictate the division of your estate is the result of an abject failure to plan. And more often that not, allowing the government to get involved in one’s personal business will result in a sub-optimal outcome.
For example, consider the following outcomes that the Probate Code has in store:
So, is your head spinning yet? Clearly the old maxim “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” is never more true than in the context of intestacy.
Don’t let this happen to your assets or to your family – taking control of the destiny of the assets you leave behind will not only prevent arbitrary (and often illogical) outcomes such as those detailed above from becoming a reality, but it also is an empowering event that ensures that your wishes will be adhered to. By far the most common reaction that our clients give us after completing their estate plan is peace of mind.
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By Paul Morison
The majority of our articles are written by our attorneys: Christopher Botti and