A will is simply a document that records your wishes and desires concerning the disposition of your assets and property upon your death. If you are over the age of eighteen and are of sound mind, you can make a will. While having a will drafted can bring peace of mind that your desires will be carried out regarding disposition of your assets and property, it does not avoid probate. Rather, a will simply tells the probate court how to distribute your assets and property. The time, expense, and hassle of probate court is still a necessity even if you have executed a will. In order to avoid probate, creation and funding of a revocable living trust or irrevocable trust is advisable.Wills and Trusts Distribute Assets Pursuant to Your Wishes
Although not the most efficient method to pass assets and property to beneficiaries, it is better to have a last will and testament than nothing at all. This is because if you die without a will, trust, or other estate planning vehicle in place, the State of California will likely determine which beneficiaries will receive your assets and property. The State’s determinations may not be in line with your desires. The only method to maintain complete control over which beneficiaries receive your assets and property is to create a will, revocable living trust, irrevocable trust, or other appropriate estate planning vehicle.Wills Allow Naming of a Guardian for Minors
Creating a will also allows you the opportunity to document who will become guardian to your minor children should you die before they reach the age of majority. If you do not name a guardian for your children, the Probate Court can appoint an individual to oversee the care of your children that you otherwise would not want to do so. In addition to appoint a guardian, parents should strongly consider creating a revocable living trust or irrevocable trust to ensure that their assets and property are used for the benefit of their children and distributed according to the parents’ wishes.Living Wills, Healthcare Directives, and Powers of Attorney
Living wills, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney are documents that allow you to state your desires regarding what will happen in certain medical situations when you are incapacitated and cannot personally state your intentions. For example, would you want to be kept alive without any possibility of recovery? These documents also allow you to determine who will make difficult medical decisions if you are incapacitated and unable to make them yourself. Documenting your desires in these areas ensures that your wishes will be carried out and also eases the stress, trauma, and indecision on those close to you if you should become incapacitated.
Contact David C. Hawkes, Esq. today for a free consultation regarding wills, trusts, or other estate planning issues, and to determine what type of estate plan would best suit your needs and goals.