Wills are complex and must contain a great deal of information. Yours may include all or some of the following components:
- Your personal information. You must identify yourself in your will to demonstrate that you are, in fact, recording decisions regarding your estate.
- Asset descriptions. Most people utilize a will to name important assets to ensure they are distributed to the correct people after death.
- Beneficiary designations. This ensures that any assets, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, pass directly to the beneficiaries you name.
- Trust information. If you’ve created a trust to handle certain assets, your will can mention its existence. Trusts are used to give a designated trustee or group of people the legal right to manage your assets for you after you die. Trust administration ensures that the assets in your estate will be managed and protected according to your wishes.
- Executor information. If you do not name an individual to handle debts, taxes, and the probate process after your death, the state will appoint an administrator. You can use your will to identify the individual you prefer to handle this duty.
- Guardianship information. If you have minor children or care for another dependent individual, you should name the intended guardian in your will.
- Witnesses and signatures. Your will must be witnessed and signed by at least two people to ensure you are of sound mind and have expressed your own personal wishes. Their presence will certify your signature and help to validate your will.
- Power of attorney. A power of attorney grants another person the legal right to do certain things on your behalf, such as pay bills, collect inheritances, and make medical decisions. This is incredibly useful to create alongside your will in case you become incapacitated before your death.
Estate planning is a fundamental process that can save your loved ones a great deal of grief and stress. If you do not create a will, California considers your death “intestate,” which means that your assets will be distributed according to the state’s laws. For example, if you have children but are divorced and have remarried before your death, your spouse will inherit your estate.
However, they are not legally obligated to leave your children any of your assets when they eventually pass away. In fact, they can distribute your estate to their own children or whomever else they wish.
This is just one of many examples of why it is so important to create an estate plan with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. An experienced Fullerton wills lawyer can help you create a legal will that distributes your assets to your desired beneficiaries. Then, a trust and probate attorney can ensure your beneficiaries receive the assets you have distributed.
The length of time it can take a lawyer to draft a will depends on your estate’s complexity, beneficiary situation, and the law firm’s capabilities and workload. If you have a very straightforward group of assets and beneficiaries, you’ll likely need to meet with your attorney once or twice to create a will. On average, it takes an attorney 24 to 48 hours to complete an initial draft for your review.
If your financial history or family situation is more complicated, contact our firm. You may need to meet with an attorney on a few separate occasions to discuss in detail how you would like your assets to be divided. It is also possible that you may need to revisit your Orange County will if you gain significant assets, have a child, or if one of your beneficiaries dies before you.