The city of Santa Rosa is located in the North Bay region of California’s Bay Area. With a 2019 population of nearly 177,000, Santa Rosa is the largest city in what is known as the California wine country. Founded in 1833, the city of Santa Rosa was named after Saint Rose of Lima; prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Santa Rosa Plain was home to the Pomo natives, but by 1900, the Pomo population had decreased by almost 95 percent. The first known European settlement in Santa Rosa was the Carrillo family homestead. The Carrillos were in-laws to Mariano Vallejo who settled in the Petaluma area.
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake essentially destroyed the entire downtown area of Santa Rosa, slowing the growth of the city significantly. More recently, nearly five percent of the homes in Santa Rosa were destroyed by the 2017 Tubbs fire, a 45,000-acre wildfire. The Tubbs fire tragically claimed the lives of 19 people in Sonoma County. The Safari West Wildlife Preserve escaped destruction of the more than 1,000 animals protected there as the 76-year-old owner, Peter Lang, single-handedly fought back the flames for more than ten hours using only garden hoses.
The Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Shadow of Doubt, was filmed in 1943 in Santa Rosa; some of the buildings seen in the movie survive today. The city of Santa Rosa has served as a location for many major films, including “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “Steelyard Blues,” “Pollyanna,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Die Hard 2,” and “Cheaper by the Dozen.”
The Old Courthouse Square remains the heart of downtown Santa Rosa and the northwestern gateway to the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California’s wine country. Visitors delight in the many vineyards and wineries nearby. Local attractions include Railroad Square, Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, Carrillo Adobe, Sonoma County Museum, and Safari West. The city of Santa Rosa is a thriving city, full of life and diversity. Residents of Santa Rosa understand the importance of having a well-thought-out estate plan, choosing an experienced estate planning attorney from Gullotta Law Group to help them plan ahead.
What Happens When You Pass Without an Estate Plan or Will?
Of course, our own death is something none of us ever want to think about, but like many things in life, it is necessary. What happens to everything you own when you pass? If you do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place—assembled by a qualified Santa Rosa probate attorney—then the state of California will make decisions regarding where your assets will go.
Will the State Get My Property?
If you were to die without a Will or other type of estate plan and you had no family at all, your property would “escheat” into the state’s coffers. This rarely happens, because the laws of the state are meant to ensure your property goes to your relatives. That being said, the state might not pass your assets to those relatives or friends you would want them to go to. Only assets that would have passed through your Will are affected by these intestate succession laws—assets you own alone, in your name only.
Are Some Assets Exempt from California’s Intestate Laws?
Examples of assets that are not affected by intestate succession laws include any property transferred to a Living Trust, life insurance proceeds, payable-on-death bank accounts, properties owned with another person in joint tenancy or as community property, securities held in a transfer-on-death account, IRAs, 401(k)s, and vehicles held by transfer-on-death registration.
How Do California’s Intestate Laws Work?
Under California’s intestate laws, if you die without an estate plan and have children but no spouse, your children inherit everything. If you have a spouse but no children, parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews, your spouse inherits everything. If you have parents, but no children, spouse, or siblings, your parents inherit everything. The list is much more extensive, addressing virtually every eventuality.
Intestate Laws Consider Community Property and Separate Property
More specifically, if you are married and die without a will, what your spouse will get will depend on how the two of you owned the property—separately or as community property, acquired while you were married. (Gifts and inheritances given to one spouse are considered separate property, even if they were acquired during the marriage). If you and your spouse were legally separated at the time of your death, your spouse will not be entitled to your property, which would then follow California intestate laws provided no properly executed will devises otherwise.
Considerations for a California Estate Plan
Your estate plan will take many variables into consideration, including your vehicles, bank accounts, property, investments, personal possessions, and other things of value. Your estate plan prepared by Attorney Eric Gullotta will go above and beyond, providing you all the information you need to prepare for your own future, as well as the future of your family.
Attorney Eric Gullotta is a Santa Rosa estate planning attorney, working alongside Sonoma County families to establish an estate plan that provides the most benefit to family members. Contact Gullotta Law Group and Eric Gullotta at (707)-938-7234—we are standing by to answer all your questions regarding your estate plan.
How Will Eric Gullotta Prepare Your Santa Rosa Estate Plan?
Here are a few goals that Eric aims to oversee during this process. This list is not comprehensive, as your estate plan will be custom-tailored to fit your exact specific needs:
- Determine who will manage your assets when you no longer can do so.
- Allocate assets to specific parties, distributed fairly and according to your desires.
- Prepare for the change in guardian to your children (minors).
- Assign health-care decision-making rights to a qualified party should you become incapacitated.
- Go through the process of selecting a beneficial life insurance policy.
- Assign assets to third parties who would not normally receive them should you pass.
An estate plan is so much more than compiling a will or trust; it accomplishes many other beneficial goals at the same time. You can establish – what we call – “airbag documents” which only come into play when certain pre-requisites are met. Only an experienced Santa Rosa estate planning attorney can help you out in this process. It’s just a short drive away from Santa Rosa!
Avoiding the Stress of Estate Planning with Gullotta Law Group near Santa Rosa
Estate planning and the creation of a Will can be a very stressful and intimidating procedure. Without a trained attorney by your side, you may not find the energy to do this very necessary task at all. Eric makes the entire process easy for you and your family. His professional yet light-hearted demeanor makes the process incredibly stress-free. Eric has received the praise of many Santa Rosa families.
Hiring a Santa Rosa Estate Planning Attorney Near You
Attorney Eric Gullotta will custom tailor your estate to fit your needs. Eric specializes in the fine-tuning of estate plans and has extensive experience in both simple estate plans as well as the more complex scenarios. Gullotta Law Group has been voted one of the Best Attorneys in Sonoma County for nine years running—a prestigious award given only to a select few who go above and beyond in their law practice. Contact Eric Gullotta today or visit his Sonoma office to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in Santa Rosa who will tailor your plan exactly as you wish. During your free case evaluation, we will answer all your questions, providing peace of mind regarding your future and the future of your loved ones.