What happens when one dies without a will ?

A will can accomplish many tasks. It can appoint a guardian for minor children or vulnerable adults. It can appoint an executor to be in charge of administering the estate. For most wills, the most important task for a will is to provide instructions on how the writer wants their estate to be distributed. After their death, if the court finds the will is valid, these instructions becoming legally binding.

But what happens if a person dies without leaving a valid will?

Intestate succession

When someone dies without a will in California, a court will distribute their property according to California’s law of intestate succession. Essentially, this law calls for estates to be distributed to the deceased person’s nearest relatives. It does this by following a somewhat complicated formula, tracing relations on the deceased person’s family tree.

This method of distributing an estate can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction and even conflicts within families. In some cases, dear friends and companions of the deceased can be left with nothing, while the bulk of the estate goes to a relative the deceased barely knew. The process can also be time-consuming and expensive. The court’s costs come out of the estate, leaving less for the heirs.

A legacy of love and support

For these and other reasons, when you  , you are giving your loved ones a great gift, whether or not you have a lot of property to give them. By making your wishes known in advance, and by making those wishes legally binding, you save your loved ones a lot of time, headaches, conflicts, and quite possibly money. A will can help ensure that your legacy is one of love and support for your heirs that they will remember for the rest of their lives.