Certainly, there are some people in Southern California and elsewhere across the country who believe in good faith that it’s not really that big of a deal whether they execute a will or not. They might especially think that way if they view their financial situation as being not overly complex and amenable to some quick and simple tidying up upon their passing.
Here’s something immediately notable, though, in connection with the failure to execute a will. Forgoing that opportunity ensures that an individual’s personal life and affairs will be finally attended to by a complete stranger rather than by a loved one or other trusted person.
In the realm of estate planning and probate, that means a judge. That person will be legally tasked to act with due professionalism and pursuant to statutory legal guidelines regarding a decedent’s assets and estate, but, even so … .
Candidly, would any reasonable person want to vest total discretion over personal affairs to a third party who knows nothing about him or her and has no personal knowledge whatever regarding a desired outcome for assets, heirlooms and other things that were important in life?
A judge will be guided by laws that stipulate who gets what, and in what order. That might — or might not — comport with what a just-passed person desired and could have made eminently clear through provisions in a will.
And imagine a case where a decedent had one or more minor children. Without a will denoting a desired guardian for those wards, discretion over appointing a particular person falls by default — once again — to a judge.
Wills can cover a lot more ground than many people tend to realize, and not having one can expose an individual and his or her family to undue stresses, uncertainty and undesired outcomes down the road.
A proven estate administration attorney can answer questions and help a client draft a carefully tailored and fully responsive will and other estate planning documents that fully promote planning objectives and safeguard intentions regarding the future.