Updated: Apr 20, 2020
There are a lot of things nowadays that are completely out of our control. Having a simple estate plan in place to protect your family and preserve your assets does not have to be of them.
It's commonly said that only half of Americans have some kind of an estate plan. But that's not exactly true.
While it may be true that only half of Americans have prepared a formal estate plan for themselves, it's also true at the same time that everyone else also has an estate plan.
How can both be true? Because in the absence of an estate plan, the State of California has just the plan for you. It's called "intestacy," and it's how your estate is handled by the Probate Court when you don't have a will and/or a living trust, and if you're a parent, a preferred guardian for your minor children.
Intestacy means that your own personal wishes for what happens to your property, your spouse, and your children are irrelevant. Your property is divided up and distributed according to the government's plan for how that should happen. And while the Court will always have a say in who takes care of your children, your own preferences will never be known. Your separated spouse might be entitled to most of your estate. That child you wanted to disinherit might receive a substantial inheritance. And your heirs will all suffer through the delays, expense, and pain that comes with Probate Court.
A simple estate plan can avoid all of that, and if you have a living trust, your heirs may also be able to avoid probate completely.