Forbes magazine just asked this controversial question in a recent article. The answer is almost always yes with relatively few exceptions. In California, everyone has an estate plan. Either you’ve created one yourself with a Will or a Trust or the State of California has an estate plan for you. This one is called intestate succession and the California Probate Code explains who will inherit from your estate if you die without your own documents.
It is true that a form of estate planning is the use of joint tenancy and beneficiary designations on your bank and brokerage accounts. These will trump the provisions in a Will even if you have one. However, what happens if the heir dies? What if your beneficiary designations are out-of-date? Also, often times it is unadvisable to hold property jointly with your children.
Another issue often overlooked are your personal effects. There is no way to put a beneficiary designation on an art collection or family heirlooms. A Will directs the disposition of where these items should go and to whom.
A very important issue that requires the execution of a Will is the designation of guardians for minor children.
As a general rule, we recommend that everyone have a Will. This ensures that your wishes are in writing and followed by your heirs.