When it comes to estate planning, most people leave their assets in the hands of their children and loved ones when they die. Not everyone decides to start a family (or, in some cases, children can predecease the estate).
These are rare scenarios, but we understand some Californians end up dealing with this exact question. So, what will happen to your estate plan in California if you don’t have living beneficiaries or heirs named in your estate plan?
California Courts Seek Out Distant Family Members
Trust administration and the execution of a will can still move forward in this scenario. Ultimately, an estate with no beneficiaries or heirs will almost always end up in the hands of a distant relative. This can be relatives you’ve lost contact with or even relatives you didn’t know you had.
California courts are able to track your family line back for generations to look at who might still be out there and able to legally receive the assets of your estate. This is that rare scenario where someone receives a phone call one day about how their third cousin twice removed left behind a house and $2 million that is now theirs to claim.
When Distant Family Cannot Be Found
Another layer to this is what happens when the California courts are unable to find or get in contact with those distant relatives. In this very rare scenario, your assets will end up becoming the property of the state of California.
When the state receives assets in this manner, an estate sale will likely follow. This allows your assets to be sold to the community with the state taking in the proceeds from the sale. Of course, this can conjure up some uncomfortable feelings of people sifting through all the assets you worked hard to build up during your lifetime.
You can avoid leaving this all up to chance by working with an estate planning attorney. If your preference is to leave assets to friends and other loved ones who aren’t family, you can write this into your estate just the same as you would for family members. At Solan, Park & Robello, we care for your future and want to make sure your hard work ends up in the hands of your choosing. Contact us and we’ll help you navigate California estate planning.
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