A Will is a legal document that transfers your assets to the people and organizations you wish to receive them. A will only becomes operational at death. You can change your will as many times as you desire during your lifetime and when you pass away, it is your last will that controls.
A will can be hand drafted by you or attorney drafted. We strongly recommend that a will be attorney drafted because there are several legal requirements that must be met in order for a will to be valid and enforceable. You don’t get a second chance, so do it right the first time!
If you need to create a valid will or trust or amend an existing estate plan, contact a Thousand Oaks estate planning lawyer at Family Security Law Group at 805-409-0108.
This is the person or entity you choose to follow the directions in your will and administer your estate in accordance with applicable laws (generally with the help of an attorney who specializes in this area). You should name one or two alternate Executors who would serve, just in case your initial Executor predeceases you, cannot act for you, or simply has decided not to serve as Executor.
These are the individuals or organizations that you want to receive your assets after you die. A will generally sets forth the identity of your beneficiaries and items, the amounts or percentage of the estate they are to receive. Unless you make your intentions known through a will, the recipients of your estate will be decided by a judge pursuant to California law.
If you have minor children, it is imperative that you name a guardian to raise your child or children, and manage the assets left to them. The person named to raise your child (Guardian of the Person) need not be the same person designated to manage the assets left to your child (Guardian of the Estate). If you fail to appoint a guardian, then someone (who you may not have chosen at all) may petition the court to be appointed as guardian. Naming alternate guardians is important here as well.
BEWARE: California law requires a guardian to transfer assets held for a child to that child upon his or her 18th birthday. Many parents say they would turn over in their grave if the assets were handed over to their child when he or she is 18 because the visions of uncontrolled spending, fast cars, and week long parties flash before their eyes! There are ways to avoid this disaster from occurring by using a testamentary trust in the will. Click here for How to Leave Assets to Minors.
In your will you can leave certain items such as a treasured ring, family heirloom or particular piece of real estate to a person you designate.
Distribution of an asset or assets can be made immediately and directly to an adult beneficiary who will own the asset(s) 100%. You can also direct the assets left to an adult to be held in trust for a certain period of time, until certain ages are attained, until a certain event occurs, or over a person’s lifetime.
If you create a revocable trust, you should also have a “Pour-Over Will.” A “Pour-Over Will” directs simply that any assets not in the Trust at the time of your death will be “poured over” into your Trust upon your death so these assets are distributed the same as assets already in the trust.
The Pour-Over Will serves as a safety net. It should not be relied upon to transfer assets to your Trust because the assets governed by the Pour-Over Will may have to be probated depending on the value of the assets you have left out of the Trust. It is best to have the appropriate assets transferred to your Trust during your lifetime so as to avoid probate completely.
Wills are an important part of estate planning. They ensure that your intentions are carried out and that your assets are distributed the way that you want. They can also save your loved ones time and money.
Family Security Law Group, APC has been helping residents of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Moorpark, Camarillo, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Newbury Park and others throughout Ventura and Los Angeles County create wills and trusts for over 35 years. We are passionate about empowering our clients to create customized estate plans to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Contact our firm today at 805-409-0108, or request a complimentary 30 minute consultation online.
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