Estate planning provides the means to provide for the settlement of one’s estate once the individual dies. Because family structures have changed considerably over the years, it is worth taking a closer look at what asset distribution can look like when considering one’s own family structure. Often the biggest asset a Californian has is real estate. How that property was acquired could impact how it should be handled in regard to one’s estate.
It is often said that some people have two families — the one they were born into and the one they choose. It is not unusual these days for two people to share and even a purchase a home or property together though they may have no intention of marrying. They may intend to live in the property or it may be purchased as a rental property for investment purposes.
When two unrelated people own property together, they are usually said to be tenants in common. As co-owners each person is responsible for half the expenses, maintenance and so forth. If a person’s estate does not spell out what should happen in the event of one’s death, it can become a matter for the courts to resolve.
If property is owned in this manner in California a trust can be established to spell out the asset distribution details in the event of one person’s death. Failure to establish an estate plan that spells out the intended benefits to the tenants in common can result in a petition to partition being filed in court to settle the matter. While it can be difficult to contemplate one’s own mortality, resolving issues related to the distribution of one’s assets can provide peace of mind knowing that one’s final wishes are provided for.