Take the time to make sure who will be given money or assets from your estate. We all pass on leaving loved ones behind. Protect your interest and theirs by making sure you have a valid will and/or a valid trust which will cause the assets of your estate to pass-on to those you care for.
The Law Offices of Edward Misleh, APC is a Sacramento law firm, located in Sacramento, California that practices family law and represents clients in Sacramento, California and clients in Northern California with services they need and deserve when addressing issues regarding their estate. Call now our Lawyer Hotline. We offer a free consultation to all new clients. Call now 916-443-1267 for your free consultation.
A California will or testament is a legal document created by a testator to expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death. The person appointed in the will to execute testator’s wishes is known as the executor who will manage the estate until all distributions are final.
California Will Requirements
Your will must have been written by a testator (the person writing the will) who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind. A California will can be holographic, which are handwritten, if they meet special requirements. California will law is relatively straightforward. The will must be written and signed by an individual who is of legal age (18) and of sound mind to be a valid will.
Benefits of a California Will
In a will you may designate who is to receive your assets at your death. In your will you can also designate an executor to appear in court on behalf of your estate, to collect your assets, pay your debts and taxes, and distribute your assets as you specify. You can also nominate a guardian to care for and raise your minor children. You can designate custodian to manage any assets your children may be receiving until they reach any age from 18 to 25.
Probate and California Wills
With or without a will, any asset that you hold solely in your name goes through the probate process. Additionally, your will is subject to probate because, the court must determine if your will is valid.
Community Property and Probate
During your marriage, you and your spouse earned money from work and wages which was used to buy or invest in assets (a home, cars, furniture, IRA, pensions, investment accounts, etc.), all of which is community property. In you will you can only give away your one-half of any community property. You cannot use your will to give away your spouse’s one-half community property.
Any asset held in joint title does not go through probate but automatically belongs to the other named owner. If your spouse or child is on the deed to your house as a joint tenant, the house automatically passes to him or her and does not go through the probate process. Life insurance and retirement plan benefits may pass directly to the named beneficiary. You will does not necessarily control how these types of “nonprobate” assets pass at your death.
Why should I make a California Will?
The quick answer is that a California Will avoids probate. Should you die without a Will, your estate will be probated under California Intestacy law which will dictate how your property will be distributed. California’s intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children while a California Will distributes your estate according to your desires. Should you not have a spouse or children, or grandchildren your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and your spouse’s relatives. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
What are the benefits of a California Will?
A California Will can help protect your family and your property. A California Will can be used to:
- Name an executor to carry-out the terms of your will.
- Designate to whom you want to leave property.
- Name a trusted person to manage property left to minor children.
- Name a personal guardian to care for your minor children.
Do I need a California Will?
Without a California Will, when you pass away, your estate will be probated under the California intestacy law. Although you may believe that your close family relatives will inherit all of your assets, often this is not the case. What determines how an estate is transferred and to whom that estate is transferred to depends on whether your estate is a Probate or Non-Probate estate. If you own property in other states, there will be a Probate in each state where the property is located.
What are the Requirements for a California Last Will?
- The testator must be at least 18 years old. The California Will must be in writing. The testator must have capacity (be of sound mind and capable of making decisions).
- The testator must sign their California Will or it must be signed by someone acting under the direction of the testator (this may be a court-appointed conservator).
- There must be at least two persons who witness the testator signing, each of whom were present at the same time, witnessed either the signing of the California will or the testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or of the will, and understands that the instrument they are signing is the testator’s will.
- Notarization is not required in California to make your will legal.
What is a Holographic California Will?
This is an instrument that is written by a living person in their own handwriting. It is recognized in California as a valid Will if it satisfied all the requirements of a California Will.
Who are the Parties to a California Will?
- The Testator: the person who executes a Will. A Testatrix is a female who executes a Will.
- Executor or Executrix: the person appointed to administer the Will is called the Executor and Executrix, respectively. This person is also called the personal representative and, regardless of title, this person is the one given power by you in your Will to administer your Last Will and Testament after your death. This person gathers information needed for accounting and the distribution of your estate. Some of the more common duties include; paying-off your debts and expenses; paying taxes; and then, making distribution of your assets in according with the terms in your Will.
Who are the Beneficiaries?
The person to whom your California Will make a disposition of property contained the deceased person’s estate. Beneficiaries can include; individuals, a corporation, an unincorporated association, a society, or a lodge.
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