If you have an estate plan in place, then you probably know what would happen if you died today. But for those who do not have a plan, the state will step in. What happens may not be exactly what you would wish.
For this reason, it is imperative to create an estate plan. But in the meantime, what happens depends on the assets you own and your personal financial situation.
If you have accounts with a named beneficiary, then those transfer on your death. There is no need for the state to step in because you have already legally declared who will become the owner of that asset.
If you own assets with another person, the other person will take over full ownership of the property. California law gives joint owners survivorship rights so this happens automatically. You also can set this up when buying the property so that it ensures the other person receives the asset.
Estate under $166,250
If you have a small estate, it usually will pass to your next of kin. Your heirs may have to go through some simplified process, but they will typically not have to go through full-blown probate. The survivorship process would pass your assets to your spouse or children. If you do not have a spouse or children, then your parents or siblings would receive your assets.
If you want to have control over what happens when you die, it is essential to create an estate plan. At the very least, you will need a will. But depending on your situation, you may need additional documents.