A will directs to whom you wish to give your property at the time of your death. If you are the parent of minor children, the more important aspect of your will is that it tells the court whom you wish to be the guardians of your children.
In the absence of a will, your property will be divided according to rules set by the California legislature. Dying without a will is often called dying "intestate". The California Legislature has created a default distribution system for this situation. This statutory system will decide for you who will receive your property in the absence of a will or living trust.
If you do not have a living trust, then your property will probably need to go through a process called "probate" whether or not you have a will. In probate, the court determines and orders your property to be given to its rightful successors whether by will or intestate succession. Even if you do not have a living trust, probate can be avoided in some cases. In still other cases, a shortened court process may be used to pass title to your heirs. Many people elect to use a Living Trust in order to avoid probate altogether. See Trusts.
If you are interested in discussing which type of will is appropriate in your circumstances, please call The Alvarez Firm to schedule a free initial consultation.