Assets such as a California home that are titled in your name at the time of your death are classified as part of your estate. Any items held in your estate will need to be probated. Probate is a process by which a judge confirms the validity of your will before assets can be transferred to beneficiaries. Property may be distributed in an equal or unequal fashion depending on your needs.
Equal inheritances may not be wise
If you have a child who makes a comfortable living, that person might not need as much as a sibling who makes $10 an hour. If you have a child who struggles with drug or alcohol abuse, you may not want to give that person a lot of money. Instead, you may want to bequeath items such as a home, car or other items that might make it easier to stay employed and off of the streets.
Your goals may differ from others
While parents and grandparents typically want to provide for their kids, they have no responsibility to do so. For instance, you may want to help the homeless, fund a new school in a foreign country or use your resources for causes outside of the family. If this is your estate planning strategy, it’s wise to express this early and often. Doing so may minimize hurt feelings or give your kids time to come around to the idea that they aren’t getting much when you pass.
Regardless of what’s in your estate plan, you can take steps to ensure that it is carried out in a timely manner. For example, you could title items in a beneficiary’s name or put items in a trust to ensure that they are transferred with little stress or drama.