Estate planning is a way of planning for your future. It can involve planning for incapacitation, giving someone authority over your health and finances. This biggest focus of estate planning, however, is death. Something must happen to your property, legally called your “estate,” after you are gone.
Using estate planning, you can control exactly what property goes to whom, and you can give them as much or as little as you want. Without a plan, your property falls into intestate succession.
Intestate succession is a state-controlled process. Essentially, the court takes over your estate. It handles your leftover bills and debts, and then it distributes your property to your next of kin.
The chain of recipients is long and complicated. Generally, you can expect your estate to go to your spouse first. If you have children, your spouse shares it with them. If you have children but no spouse, your property goes to the children. From there, it goes to parents, siblings, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and so on.
Initially, it seems like this is a fair system, and there’s no reason to disturb it. However, as we will reveal, intestate succession can cause problems.
Here are some reasons why you should plan for your estate, avoiding intestate succession.
Your Loved Ones Are Not Immediate Family
In our modern times, people are more willing to disconnect from their blood relatives. People who take this step often build a surrogate family of close friends, or perhaps they have extended family that they are closer to than their immediate family.
Intestate succession will immediately disqualify people from inheriting your property. Imagine someone with a living mother who was absent in their lives. They were raised by their aunt, and they regard this woman as their mother. Without a proper estate plan, this aunt will be left out of the inheritance she deserves.
Your Children Will Have to Wait
When your property falls into intestate succession, the state completely controls that property before passing it along to your beneficiaries. It will hold any minor’s inheritance until the child turns 18. Between your death and your child’s 18th birthday, the state can manage your property however it wants. It may decide to use your money in other ways, leaving your child with little leftover.
Your Estate Is Susceptible to Scams
There are scammers out there who pour through obituaries. They find any recently deceased person and start contacting their family. These criminals then claim to be creditors of the estate, and they demand payment.
Intestate succession is controlled by government employees. These people have no vested interest in you, your estate, or your recipients. Furthermore, they may be overworked, handling many estates at once. It’s easy for them to fall victim to scammers, handing your beneficiary’s money to thieving liars.
There Is No Privacy
Intestate succession is a matter of public record, as it is controlled by the courts. The public can look up all transactions, including the exact property your inheritors receive.
Estate planning offers many options for passing your property along privately. For instance, a trust can simply hand property over to recipients and avoid the court altogether.
Our firm is here to help you craft a solid estate plan, bypassing the need for intestate succession. For a free consultation, call us today at (916) 571-1550 or contact us online.