Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and San Diego County Will Attorney
Assisting Individuals and their Loved Ones with Drafting a Concise and Complete Last Will and Testament
In the State of California, if you die without having a valid will or trust in place, your assets, including any real property which you hold, will be distributed in accordance with the California laws surrounding intestate succession. Property distribution in this instance can take a long time, and the State will be the one to make a determination about who receives what – based upon a survivor’s familial relationship with you.
What is a Will?
A last will and testament is a legal tool that is used for estate planning. A will is generally considered to be the cornerstone of an estate plan, and it plays an important role in administering a deceased person’s (decedent’s) estate. The main functions of a will include:
- Designating the executor of your estate who will be in charge of administering your estate
- Naming your beneficiaries
- Designating which property will go to which beneficiaries
- Naming who you want to care for your children if necessary
While you can also distribute property through a living trust, it is important to have a will nonetheless. You should always have an experienced attorney draft your will, as there are requirements that must be met for the will to be valid under California law. The right wills attorney knows how to properly draft a will that addresses all the relevant issues and achieves your goals for your estate planning.
What are the Types of Wills?
Most people do not realize that there is more than one type of last will and testament. The following are some types of wills that people might have:
- Simple will – Despite its name, a simple will can achieve a lot, including naming your executor and setting out your property distributions.
- Nuncupative will – This is a will that is spoken verbally instead of in writing, and this type of will is not recognized as valid under California law.
- Holographic will – This type of will is handwritten, and as long as it is found to be in the handwriting of the decedent and is properly signed, it can be valid in California.
- Joint will or mutual will – Both of these involve two people – usually spouses – leaving everything to one another. These can be problematic for family members and are rare in modern times.
- Mirror will or reciprocal will – This is often a better option for spouses, as they are separate documents that have nearly identical terms. Each spouse has the ability to amend their own will should circumstances change.
- Living will – This is not actually a last will and testament, but instead, sets out your wishes for end-of-life medical care.
Why is a Will Important?
After someone passes away, the person named as the executor of the estate in the will should locate the decedent’s will and submit it to the probate court. If the probate court deems the will valid, the court will then allow the executor to distribute the estate according to the will.
If someone does not have a will, the probate court will decide who will serve as the executor, which in this situation, is called the personal representative of the estate. Then, the decedent’s property will have to be distributed according to California’s intestate succession laws. This is not always how you would like for your property to be divided, and the probate process can often take longer without a will. Having a will is important to protect the interests of your beneficiaries and your estate.
Having a valid will in place, however, firmly establishes how a decedent’s assets will be distributed and to whom they will go following the decedent’s death. Consequently, it is extremely important to have a well-written will in place, so that there is absolutely no ambiguity.
If you are in the process of formulating your last will and testament, it is important to have an experienced Santa Ana, California will and estate attorney by your side assisting you throughout the process. Attorney Roshni T. Desai of the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai can assist you with drafting a well-written will that accounts for all of your assets and liabilities and which offers your loved one’s peace of mind.
Requirements for Making a Will
The State of California imposes several requirements for individuals – called testators – who make a will. First, the testator must be at least 18 years old at the time. Moreover, at the time he or she makes the will, the testator must be of “sound mind.” In other words, the testator must be deemed mentally competent under the law and must ordinarily not suffer from a mental disorder that causes hallucinations or delusions.
In addition, for a will to be valid in California, at least two individuals must witness the will. Likewise, oral wills are not allowed in the State. In order for a will to be valid, it must be reduced to writing, and the testator must sign it. If the testator is physically or mentally incapacitated to such an extent that he or she cannot physically sign the will, then the testator’s duly appointed guardian or conservator could fill in. Finally, a holographic will – otherwise known as a handwritten will – is allowed in the State of California because it complies with the writing requirement. An undated holographic will, however, could present a problem and might be deemed invalid under some circumstances.
Contact an Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and San Diego County Will Attorney Today
Drafting and executing a will that is both complete and comprehensive can be a difficult task without the assistance of an experienced attorney. Attorney Roshni T. Desai of the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai could help you draft a will that is both complete and concise – and which makes all of the necessary provisions for asset distribution following your death or incapacity. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a California wills attorney, please call us at 714-694-1200 or contact us online for more information.