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Dying without an estate plan could affect surviving family

When thinking about your eventual demise, you may wonder how your family will handle your death and the multitude of questions needing decisions in the aftermath. These decisions could prove difficult for surviving loved ones as they may second-guess whether you would have liked the decisions. This situation could put significant stress on your family during a time of grief, and complications could potentially arise if you did not create an estate plan.

Property division

When it comes to property division, California law will determine who will inherit your property. If you have a spouse and children at the time of your death, your property will likely pass on to them. However, community property and separate property could play a role in this division. When it comes to community property, the spouse will inherit that property, and any children will inherit half or two-thirds of the separate property.

If there is a spouse and no children, the spouse will likely inherit all the property. If your parents are still living at the time of your demise, they may also inherit some of your assets. This division could have various outcomes depending on your surviving relatives and descendants.

If there are no surviving family, your estate will go to the state. There is also a chance that even if there are surviving family, they will not inherit anything from your estate if outstanding issues, such as debt, exist.

Because such uncertainty regarding property distribution after death could cause conflict and upset among surviving family, you may wish to create a will or other estate documents to detail how you would like your property divided.

Funeral arrangements

Though many people may only think of naming heirs and beneficiaries for property when it comes to estate planning, there are other areas that the process can address. You may even detail how you would like your funeral handled. Though you or other individuals may find such a process morbid, it can prove beneficial. If you have already made these plans, family members may have the opportunity to focus more on their grief and the mourning process rather than worrying about whether they are making the right decisions for you and your final rest.

Because dying without a will could lead to additional complications for surviving family, taking the time to create an estate plan may be wise. Once you begin the process, you may find that there are many aspects regarding end-of-life wishes that you had not previously considered.

Because getting your affairs in order can present a challenge, you may wish to seek assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney. This type of legal professional could help you better understand the process and the options that may best suit your particular needs.

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