Having a legal will helps you to protect and care for your loved ones after your death. It is essential that you ensure your will is legal under the laws of California.
There are many myths and misconceptions about this type of legal document. At Huber Law Group, A.P.C., we strive to assist you with understanding the law and the process of creating and maintaining a legal will.
Our attorneys have years of experience helping people with drafting wills and modifying or revoking them. We have the skills and knowledge to ensure that after your death, the document you leave behind will instruct the court in a clear and precise manner according to your wishes. By working with us, you can stop worrying, knowing you have in place the proper plans to ensure your loved ones have what they need once you leave this world.
The Legal Aspects
Many people are unclear on why they should have a will. The main reason is that when you die, if you do not have one, the state steps in to make decisions about your estate. Whether you have few assets or an extensive estate, you need a will so that you control what happens to it after you’re gone.
Without a will, the state will follow basic inheritance laws when dividing your assets. If you have a spouse, he or she will typically get everything. Your other heirs will be out in the cold. The only exception is jointly owned accounts or property, which goes to the other owner, or an account with a designated beneficiary, who would then receive that property.
In any case, if you die without a will, probate will often be slow. Meanwhile, your loved ones have no access to your assets. They may have to wait for months or even years to get the property that rightfully belongs to them. Obviously, this is not ideal, but you can avoid such a scenario by creating a will.
If you have a will, then probate more often moves at a reasonable pace. Your executor or personal representative presents the will to the court. The court validates it, defines the heirs, valuates the assets and handles any of your remaining financial obligations, such as debts and taxes. Then, your heirs receive their inheritances, and the court closes your estate.
As you can easily see, it is in the best interests of your family that you create a will. Our lawyer can make the process simple and ensure you end up with a valid document.
What Makes a Will Legal?
The first step in creating a will is to ensure you understand the legal requirements under California law. A legal will must be:
- Signed by your own hand
- Signed by two witnesses not named in the document
Do note that notarization is not a substitute for the two witnesses’ signatures. It also is not a requirement.
You may also create a holographic will, which means writing it in your own handwriting. This type of will does not require witness signatures. However, you must ensure it is legible and that the court can confirm it is in your handwriting and the date upon which you signed it.
When creating any type of will, you must be:
- Age 18 or older
- Of sound mind, meaning that you understand what you are doing and the effects of it and that you are willingly creating the document
California does allow statutory wills, which are essentially fill-in-the-blank documents. Our attorney can provide you with this form and assist you with filling it in. You should note that it is a simple will. You cannot alter the form or add additional items or notes as that will invalidate it. This type of will is only for estates that are smaller.
Changing Your Will
Once you create a will, it stands as valid until you do something to invalidate it. You have two basic options to revoke the document completely:
- Create a new will
- Burn or otherwise physically destroy the will
If you create a new will, it should state in it that you revoke all previous wills. If the court finds multiple wills, then the latest one is valid and the others are not.
Creating a new will can help to prevent confusion and allow you to make changes that are clear and valid, but you do have another option to make changes: You may create a codicil. This is a legal way to modify the document and add information or change details. To create one, you must meet the same legal requirements as you did for creating the original document, including the witness signatures. Also, you must label it as a codicil to your will.
The main reason why you should seek help from a lawyer with experience in estate law is that if you fail to create your will or modify it according to the law, the court can and will deem it invalid. Once invalidated, it is like you have no will, and the state proceeds to handle your estate.
In addition, if you have any heirs that are not happy with the decisions you made, they can always contest your will. If you do not have things in order, they could possibly win, and the court may invalidate parts or all of the document.
By working with a Huber Law Group, A.P.C., attorney, you get the skills and oversight that you need to ensure your will is solid and legally upholdable. Your attorney can attest in court to the validity and counter any arguments that your heirs may have about your mental state at the time of creation.
Furthermore, your Sacramento wills lawyer will act as your representative in all private matters to ensure your wishes stay front and center. He or she is there to make sure that nobody can override what you want to happen when you cannot be there yourself. It can give you peace of mind to know that your affairs are in good hands.
Talk to Us Today
We are here to help you start putting things in order and planning for the future by crafting a legal will. If you are ready to create a will or if you have questions about the process, please contact an attorney at Huber Law Group, A.P.C. today. Call our office at (916) 525-7980.