You do—whether your estate is large or small. Either way, you should designate someone to manage your assets and make health care and personal care decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so for yourself. If your estate is small, you may simply focus on who will receive your assets after your death, and who should manage your estate, pay your last debts and handle the distribution of your assets. If your estate would otherwise be subject to probate, you need a living trust. Either way, however, if you fail to plan ahead, a judge will simply appoint someone to handle your assets and personal care. And your assets will be distributed to your heirs according to a set of rules known as intestate succession. Your relatives, no matter how remote, and, in some cases, the relatives of your spouse will have priority in inheritance ahead of the State of California. Still, they may not be your choice of heirs and an estate plan gives you complete control over who will inherit your assets after your death.