Long Beach Wills And Trusts Attorney
If you’re a California resident, and you die without a will, the law of intestate succession controls, and your estate is distributed in accordance with the applicable statute. Because of a lack of foresight, you have no control over how your estate will be distributed, or who will be distributing it.
Requirements of a valid California will
A last will and testament is a legal document that gives express instructions concerning the disposition of your property upon your death. Like all other states, California has it’s own statute on what constitutes valid last will and testament. It’s generally required to be:
- In writing
- Signed by the testator (maker) who is over 18-years old
- The testator must be of sound mind
- Signed by two competent independent witnesses in the presence of the testator and each other
- Witnesses must know it’s the testator’s last will and testament
If the testator is physically unable to sign the will, it can be signed by somebody else at his or her direction. As your attorneys, we can even petition the court to have a conservator appointed on your behalf, and have the conservator sign the will for you pursuant to court order.
Wills offer no privacy and they cause distribution delays
Regardless of whether a person died with or without a will, an estate might required to be placed in probate court. The general rule is that once a will is filed, and an estate has been opened, all information regarding the decedent’s assets, debts and directions for distribution become matters of public record. The same scenario can apply if somebody died without a will. Either circumstance begins what can become a very long, detailed, and expensive process.
The revocable living trust
This is a popular estate planning tool that might have certain advantages for people over a will. Like with a will, you’ll appoint somebody to administer over your estate when you die, but you can remain in complete control of your assets while you’re alive by designating yourself trustee of your estate. The person who you appoint to manage your estate after you die is the successor trustee. You can place your assets in control of the trust while you’re alive though. Like in a will, you name the beneficiaries who your assets will pass to upon your death. You can even modify the document or completely revoke it in the future too. Should you become incapacitated in the future, appropriate arrangements can even be made for that contingency in your trust document or other estate documents. After your death or incapacitation, your successor trustee is in charge. The instrument need only be signed by you in the presence of a notary and then notarized.
You can avoid probate with a living trust
Any assets not transferred into your revocable living trust will likely be probated, but if all of your assets have been conveyed into the trust, it’s highly likely that probate court can be completely avoided. As opposed to probate, you have the advantage of privacy with a revocable living trust because the trust documents that convey your assets just don’t enter the courthouse. Assets, their amounts and who they pass to remain private and not a matter of public record. Just be sure that all assets intended to be placed into the revocable living trust are indeed conveyed into it.
Remember that if you have neither a will nor a revocable living trust, it’s likely that a judge and the State of California will control distribution of your assets. Your heirs might include your brother who you haven’t seen or talked to in 25 years. Whether it’s a will or a will and a trust, stay away from the cheap internet kits that you just fill in the blanks on. You’ll probably just create bigger issues that will defeat your intent and force your estate into probate anyway. Contact us at the California Elder Law Center PC. We’re California’s leading elder law attorneys, and we can get you pointed in the right direction. For some people, a will might be better than a trust. For others, a trust might be better than a will.
Contact Long Beach Wills and Trusts Lawyers at the California Elder Law Center PC
As California’s Leading Elder Law Firm, the Elder Law Center has the necessary knowledge and experience to help seniors and their families develop the proper Life Care Plan for the elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Whether you are planning for your own future or need assistance in caring for a loved one, the California Elder Law Center PC is ready to help. Schedule a free consultation with one of the attorneys by calling 562-377-7710 or toll free 877-377-7411, or by simply contacting us online.