While modern custom in Vietnam is typically not to make a will, the case for Vietnamese families living in California is not the same. A clear-cut will is necessary to ensure the wishes of each person is followed in distributing his or her assets following death.
According to Vietnam Law magazine, ancient Vietnamese laws governed inheritances among all family members, with one of the most notable points being that spouses could not inherit from each other when one dies. The idea behind that cultural norm was that the assets (usually land), remained in the families from which each came. Modern Vietnamese laws have changed to allow a ranking system that places family members in a line of inheritance, with spouses sharing the highest rank and right of inheritance with a spouse’s parents, grandparents and children. This reinforces the traditional role of inheritances among family members.
Like their ancestors and modern-day ties across the oceans, Vietnamese communities here in California place great importance on family. Like today’s residents of Vietnam, Californians also need to become involved in estate planning if they wish to direct distribution of their assets.
FindLaw explains that, if you die without a will, your estate must go to probate, or through the California court system, and it will be distributed according to state law. Typically, this means your estate is given in equal shares to your heirs, much like the laws of Vietnam. California inheritance law also recognizes community property, which is property acquired during a marriage. The spouse is entitled to half of all marital property, but they may not take or distribute the other half unless they are named as the inheritor.
Navigating inheritance laws is made easier with a will that specifies who gets what. When you are ready, contact an attorney with experience in estate planning to guide you.
This article on wills is informational in nature. It is not intended to be legal advice.