Whether you are starting out on your career or have already retired, it is important to prepare a will. This is a legal document that includes instructions related to the distribution of your property after your death, and in some cases it names the person whom you wish to take care of your kids. The will becomes irrevocable upon the death of the person who makes it, known as a testator. If you do not prepare and finalize a will as part of your estate planning strategy, property distribution and guardianship will be conducted according to the laws of California. The Sacramento estate planning lawyers at Travis G. Black & Associates can work with you to prepare a will. Based in Folsom, we have assisted many California residents with drafting instruments that clearly articulate their wishes.Drafting Wills
Most people name beneficiaries in their will. These beneficiaries receive specified gifts, and they may be your spouse and children, family members, friends, or charities, as you see fit. If you decide not to dispose of particular items of property by gifting them to someone, you will also need to direct what should be done with them and where they should go.
An executor may also be chosen and named in a will. This person will manage property, pay off debts and taxes that are due, and distribute property to beneficiaries according to your instructions. This person should be someone whom you believe is responsible and will carry out your wishes.
In their wills, parents of minor children may also name the person whom they would like to be responsible for their child's care if both parents die before the child turns 18. They may also name a guardian to be responsible for managing property or money that is gifted to the child until he or she gets older.
A will only covers the assets that you name within it. Certain assets are disposed of differently and are not affected by your will, such as life insurance, assets owned as a joint tenant, retirement plans, transfer on death brokerage accounts, and assets held in a living trust. A will is only one part of estate planning. For people in California with assets over $150,000, it is also wise to prepare a living trust. If there is no trust, your estate will need to go through the time-consuming and expensive probate process.
If you die intestate, the beneficiaries of your estate will be determined according to California law. The first person in line to inherit your separate property is your spouse, who will also receive all of your community property assets. Others in line to inherit are your children and grandchildren, parents, siblings, and other close relatives.
The basic requirements of preparing a will in California are that the testator is at least 18 years old and of sound mind. To finalize the will, you will need to sign the will in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses will need to sign the will. The will does not need to be notarized.Consult a Sacramento Lawyer for Your Estate Planning Needs
While you can make a valid will yourself, it is usually helpful to have a will prepared by an attorney. This is because it makes your will less likely to be contested after your death. A Sacramento estate planning attorney can make sure that you have considered important issues, such as the tax consequences of how property is distributed. At the Folsom firm of Travis G. Black & Associates, we understand how important it is that your family be cared for after your death. We provide perceptive legal counsel and will work hard to further your personal goals. Contact us online or at 916-962-2896 for a free consultation with a wills and trusts attorney.