There is no doubt that all adults should have at least a rudimentary estate plan in place. But that becomes even more important when you have children — especially if they are still minors.
Your first concern is likely who will assume guardianship of your minor children if you and their other parent are no longer alive. Would you want them placed with your parents or siblings, relatives in the other parent’s family or with a trusted friend? Without a will and other important estate planning documents on file, the custody of your children will be determined by the courts.
What dying intestate could mean financially for the children
If you die without a will here in California and you are married, whether that is to your children’s other parent or not, your spouse will receive a full half of your community property and either a half or a third of your separate property. That variation is dependent upon whether you have one or more children.
Your children will then inherit the remainder of your personal property — either one-half or two-thirds.
Multiple marriages complicate matters
If you are in a second or subsequent marriage to a spouse who is not the parent of your children and that spouse has children of their own, without a last will and testament in place, those children who are unrelated to you could eventually wind up with some of your personal property you assumed would transfer instead to your own children.
Don’t let the vagaries of chance and the California court system determine the fate of your estate. Reach out to an estate planning professional if you would like to learn more.