Getting married means starting your lives together as a partnership; and that partnership often comes with a lot of joint ventures, whether that be property, assets, or even raising your children together. So, whether you have a will already or not, you’ll want to write/re-write one with your partnership in mind.
Here are a couple of things to think about:
Recognize what happens if one of you dies without a will
If you or your spouse do not write a will, the law has provisions to distribute your estate for you called “interstate succession.” This creates a hierarchy of spouse and relatives to whom the property may go to. In California, it also depends on whether the spouse who died had community property or separate property (or a combination). Community property is generally what was acquired during the marriage while separate are assets brought in before the marriage.
Although rules vary state-by-state, in California, if it’s community property, and you had no kids, the living spouse will get all the property. If it’s separate, the property will go to the surviving spouse in totality if there are no children, parents, siblings, or siblings. If there is one child, it will be split between the surviving spouse and child, if there are no children, but the spouse’s parents are alive, then it’s also split in half by parent and surviving spouse. The list goes on by hierarchy of relatives and the split for remaining spouse.
As you can see, you may want (or not want) your surviving spouse to split property with relatives even if it’s separate. By creating a will, your wishes are understood and clarified through a legal document.
Recognize that you won’t be able have a say for who takes care of your children should you both pass.
The state will nominate a guardian for your child should you both die without a will. While the state will attempt to appoint a correct guardian, it may not align with your views. Creating a will ensures your child’s best interests are at heart and will be fulfilled should you pass.
Consider getting a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement
Much of these complications can be avoided with a pre-nup or post-nup, especially if you have large assets that you want distributed in a non-standard way.
Writing a will with your partner may not be the most romantic date, but it’s incredibly important. Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA respects to help you navigate the complex laws of estate planning and wills.