Burt + Clerc previously wrote about the need for everyone to have some basic estate planning documents in place. One of these fundamental documents is a will. In California, the probate courts allow an individual to create holographic will. This is essentially a handwritten will. There are some risks involved with this however, and therefore we advise everyone to engage a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to draft your estate planning documents. Sometimes, time will not permit this or there are other reasons why someone may choose to draft his/her own will.
The basic will should include most, if not all of the following elements:
Your full name and place of residence The names of your immediate family members (i.e. children, spouse etc.)
List of specific gifts and their corresponding beneficiary (i.e. car, residence or jewelry)
Names of other beneficiaries Statement regarding the payment of expenses and debts owed by you Name of executor to manage your assets and affairs Name of at least 2 alternate executors in case your first choice is unable to act as executor Statement regarding posting a bond by the executor Name of guardian for minor children along with 2 alternate guardians Your signature Witnesses’ signature and attestation clause
Although the process of creating a will is relatively painless and actually pretty easy, about 50% of Americans die without one. When someone dies without a will it is called intestate and the laws of California determine who will receive your assets and property. This is usually not the distribution that most people would have chosen.
If you need help or would like to discuss creating a will, contact Burt + Clerc and our friendly estate planning attorneys will be glad to assist you.