Where There’s a Will, You Might Rest Easier

Many individuals often ponder whether it is necessary to begin estate planning. It is generally unpleasant to think about the events that would make estate planning essential. Mortality is scary. The problem is that death and taxes are inevitable. Facing this proposition, it is important to consider those that will survive us. Over the course of our life, we can accumulate vastly different types and amounts of wealth, including sentimental items, financial assets, and other oddities. Many people begin to decide who should receive certain special items, or how their wealth should be divided. If there are individuals that are deemed to deserve a specific gift, a will is essential.

Under California Probate Code §§ 6400-6455, if a person dies without a will (called “dying intestate”), property is distributed to their heirs according to a complex statutory scheme. In most cases, if a specific gift is desired for a particular person, this may not be accomplished. This is true when giving testamentary gifts outside of your immediate family, or to distant relatives. Worse, instead of being able to choose precisely who gets what property, a probate court must determine items based on value. This can lead to adverse relationships between the remaining family.

Contrary to the detrimental effects of dying intestate, a will allows reasonable freedom to make gifts by the deceased. A testator (the person making the will) is able to decide who receives their property and what property they can be received. Prob. Code §§ 6101, 6102.

Being able to determine how property should be dispersed is sometimes a more harmonious way to ease the burden of loss on surviving family members. A will can help grant clarity to a dark and confusing time. The general golden rule in applying the terms of a will defaults to the intent of the deceased. Because of this, a will allows courts to decide what the deceased would have wanted. Prob. Code § 21102.

A will can allow a decedent to make preparations for the ones they are leaving behind. It can be a more personal and peaceful process than allowing the state to make such sensitive decisions.   Let the knowledgeable staff and attorneys at Dias Law Firm, Inc. assist with your estate planning needs.  Call us today for a consultation.

By: Ella R. Floresca, Esq.

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