There is a part of human nature that makes it difficult to think about a day when we will no longer be able to conduct our own affairs. Whether this is due to an illness or injury that causes incapacity or our inevitable passing, there will come a time when each of us will be unable to express or explain our wishes regarding end of life decisions and the disposition of our property. This is why it is essential for individuals to develop this kind of plan while they are still able to do so. Furthermore, an individual is obliged to periodically return to the estate plan and end of life planning so that the documents still reflect his or her wishes as time passes.
The situation currently unfolding following Prince’s death illustrates many of the pitfalls that exist for people who do not engage in estate planning. While some aspects of the case (royalties for a renowned musical and artistic catalog) revolve almost exclusively around the rich and famous, other aspects of the case could happen to any individual and his or her family. As in Prince’s situation, life is fragile and fleeting, and can end with little to no warning or time to get one’s affairs in order. Therefore, even people who consider themselves part of the middle class should plan for eventualities with an experienced lawyer.
If you are considering drafting a will, living will, advanced medical directive, or other estate planning documents, the attorneys of the NewPoint Law Group, LLP can help. To schedule a confidential legal consultation, call our firm at 800-358-0305 or contact us online today.
If You Pass Without a Will or Estate Plan, Property Passes According to State Law
If you die without a will or estate plan that makes use of trusts, your property will pass to your heirs solely on the basis of state law. In the case of Prince, it appears that Minnesota law will oversee the distribution of his belongings. In a case where there are no children and no spouse, it appears that his brothers and sisters will inherit most–if not all–of his property. The failure to have a will and estate plan has also deprived Prince’s estate of an executor of Prince’s choosing. Rather, a court was forced to substitute its own judgment and has appointed a bank with which Prince had significant dealings to administer his estate.
If you were to pass in California, state law would govern who received your property. This may or may not reflect your wishes. California is a “community property” state, meaning that if you are married, all community property (what you acquired during the marriage) would go to the surviving spouse. Moreover, if there are no surviving children or siblings, the surviving spouse would also get all separate property. If there are surviving children or siblings, the property would be divided between or among the surviving spouse and other relatives entitled to inherit. For instance, if there were multiple surviving children, the surviving spouse would receive one-third of the separate property and the surviving children would divide the remaining two-thirds of the separate property. The rules are different when you are not married and pass on to the State of California.
In Reality, Family Disputes Often Arise When There Is No Estate Plan
While the law may set forth a particular rubric for the disposition of your property, the simple truth is that estates without a will or estate plan often lead to family disputes. If your assets include homes or significant amounts of money in the bank, the likelihood of family in-fighting increases even more.
When a loved one dies, family members already feel intensely vulnerable and stressed. If they learn there was no will, they may take this new information personally. If you promised a particular heirloom or valuable property to someone in life, but did not take steps to ensure that they would receive it, they may be willing to fight for it. In other cases, family members may challenge the administration of the estate because in spite of the law which entitles a family member to receive property, they feel that a particular family member doesn’t deserve property or that they themselves are more deserving.
Work with an Experienced California Estate Planning Lawyer
Working with an Roseville estate attorney can increase the likelihood that your wishes are carried out faithfully while also decreasing the chances of family disputes. The lawyers of the NewPoint Law Group, LLP can help you develop a plan utilizing traditional estate planning tools like a will or non-traditional plans, which utilize trusts to protect your interests. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at 800-358-0305 or online today.