What Happens If You Pass Away Without a Will?

Estate planning in La Jolla, University City – UTC, and San Diego

By Amy Hsiao

Aug 08

What if you were to pass away without having written a will?

If that happens, you’re leaving it up to state law to dictate what happens if you haven’t clarified who your heirs and beneficiaries are. The order that state law goes by when designating heirs is what you’d expect from most people.  

Your surviving spouse is your primary heir, followed by your children, and in the absence of either, it’s your parent(s). From there, it extends to your siblings and then to your nieces and nephews. If necessary, the list will go on and on until someone is able to receive your estate. It can become tricky, however, if you have a blended family or you have children from another relationship. 

Though California law does its best to fill in the gaps to ensure the people closest to you get a part of your estate, it might be contrary to what you’d have wanted. Further, our state law doesn’t actually give much guidance on who is in charge when assets are left to a minor or an incapacitated beneficiary. 

The law is written to follow the general family framework, but in truth, it doesn’t do much else. It doesn’t address your concerns with who would receive your estate and how those recipients receive your estate according to your wishes.  

It’s really important to spell out your wishes in writing while you’re able so we don’t have to rely on state law to sort through it in a way that might not be true to your wishes.  

If you have any questions about today’s topic or estate planning in general, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’d be happy to answer them for you!  

It’s really important to spell out your wishes in writing while you’re able...

If you have any questions about estate planning, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to provide you with further information.