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What happens if I die without a will in San Diego County?

Dying without a will in San Diego County, or anywhere for that matter, can lead to outcomes that might not align with your wishes. Known legally as dying “intestate,” this situation means that state laws will dictate how your assets are distributed. In this blog, we will explore what happens under California’s intestacy laws and why it is crucial to have a will to ensure your estate is handled according to your preferences.

Understanding Intestacy in California:

  1. Asset Distribution Based on Kinship: In the absence of a will, California’s intestacy laws prioritize your closest relatives for asset distribution. If you are married, your spouse may receive all or a significant portion of your assets, depending on whether you have living parents, children, or other relatives. If you are unmarried with children, your assets will be divided equally among your children.
  2. Complications for Unmarried Partners: Unmarried partners do not receive any inheritance under intestacy laws, regardless of the duration or commitment of the relationship. Without a will, your partner could be left with nothing, making it crucial for unmarried couples to establish estate plans that reflect their wishes.
  3. Guardianship of Minor Children: Without a will specifying guardianship wishes, the court will decide who will care for any minor children. This decision may not reflect what you would have wanted, potentially leading to custody battles or placements that are less than ideal.
  4. Probate Process: Dying intestate generally requires your estate to go through probate, a public and often lengthy legal process that can lead to significant expenses and delays in asset distribution. This can be especially cumbersome for your heirs during a time of grief.
  5. Estate Taxes and Legal Costs: The lack of an estate plan can also lead to higher estate taxes and increased legal costs, which diminish the value of the estate passed on to your heirs.

Why Having a Will is Critical:

  • Control Over Asset Distribution: A will provides clear instructions on how your assets should be distributed, allowing you to control who inherits and how much they receive.
  • Appointment of Executors and Guardians: You can specify who will manage your estate and who will care for your children, ensuring that these critical roles are filled by people you trust.
  • Minimizing Legal Hassles: A well-drafted will can simplify the probate process, reducing the time and expense associated with settling your estate.

Dying without a will in San Diego County leaves much to chance and can result in your assets not being distributed according to your wishes. At Allenby Law, we understand the importance of having a well-crafted estate plan that protects your interests and those of your loved ones. Taking the time to create a will can save your heirs time, money, and stress.

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