Contrary to popular belief, wills are not only for the wealthy. Every person should have a will as part of their estate strategy. It’s the single most crucial document for distributing your assets after death. It is up to you to choose who will get the assets and when. You’ll need to name an executor or trustee to carry out the terms of your will.
For your underage children, you must appoint a legal guardian. If your company is family-owned, you should prepare for its orderly continuation or sale. When arranging your estate’s distribution, you should consider the issues, questions, and suggestions below. Remember that you decide to give your descendants what may have taken you a long time to achieve and that it is easy to put off preparing a complete estate plan.
Occupational and Individual Retirement Plans
Individual and corporate pensions each have their own set of regulations determined by each plan’s specifics. Call the pension plan’s administrators if the deceased was a plan member to determine whether a pension is payable to a spouse, civil partner, and any dependent children. When a self-employed person dies, their pension plan, if they have one, may contain investments that are included in their estate.
If a pension adjustment or dissolution order was made during a divorce or the termination of a civil partnership, a former spouse or civil partner might be eligible for benefits under the pension plan.
The Transfer of Property Upon Death
When you pass away, the old cliché “you can’t take it with you” becomes a legal reality under both federal and state law. Since you can’t keep your life’s fortune in your pocket, it must be shared with others. How, what kind, and to whom your assets are transferred depends on how you hold them and who is designated as the beneficiary. Non-probate property refers to assets that may be passed on without a court overseeing their transfer (such as those designated to be passed on to a beneficiary). It may contact those “new” owners without resorting to the courts. Probate lawyers in Oxnard ensure that the probate property (i.e., assets without a designated beneficiary) must go through a legal process to be transferred to the new owners.
If an individual does not have a beneficiary designated, then their estate must go through the Probate process. When a Will is subject to a certain procedure, the court will enable the estate to be distributed in line with the will’s contents (often known as the process of proving that Will). In the event of your death, a properly drafted will enable you to leave your assets to the people or organizations of your choosing. If no exceptional circumstances apply, such as a challenge that will be heard in court, your inheritance will be distributed according to your desires. Keep in mind that the disinheritance or wrongful death of a spouse is illegal in every state. It doesn’t matter what you write in your will; the law states that your spouse has the right to elect and request a share of your estate.
Shared Ownership of Assets
As a general rule, married spouses own most of their assets jointly with the right of survivorship. After a spouse’s death, the surviving partner immediately becomes the sole owner of the couple’s assets. A Will is required to make any changes to the distribution. Many assume incorrectly that this form of ownership does away with the need for individuals to draft wills. Since the surviving spouse is now the only inheritor of the property, he or she will need a Will to decide what happens to it when he or she dies. Due to the uncertainty of who may outlive their partner, both must create a Will. In addition, a will that directs that both spouses’ estates go to the survivor of the two might not be the best option if the dead wanted to leave anything to people who weren’t blood relatives.
The people’s provisions will govern the distribution of life insurance benefits to a designated beneficiary. As a result, the insurance money won’t go through the probate process.
If You Don’t Leave a Will, What Happens to Your Assets?
The above describes potential outcomes should a person pass away without a will. However, depending on a person’s relational standing at the time of death, we will investigate the particulars in more depth.
- Single individual: When you’re single and die without a Will, several things may happen. If you have no other beneficiaries in your will, your whole fortune will go to your children in the first scenario. If you don’t have any kids and your parents are still living, they’ll get your stuff. If there are no surviving siblings and living parents, your inheritance will be split (equitably) among your children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your assets will be divided fairly amongst your siblings, your siblings’ descendants (nieces and nephews), or your mother’s and father’s families.
- Domestic Partnership: However, not all jurisdictions recognize domestic relationships. This is why it’s important to research the inheritance rules in your state before death occurs. However, in many jurisdictions, domestic partners are afforded the same legal protections as spouses (depending on how the property is managed).