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Requirements for a Valid Last Will and Testament in California
What is a last will and testament?
If you have your loved ones’ best interests at heart, you will take the necessary legal steps to ensure that your property goes to them after your demise. You may not need it today and you might have to amend it several times or create other wills but a free California last will and testament will ensure that no one ignores your wishes. It aptly communicates your final wishes with regards to your dependents and possession.
Also referred to the primary building block of estate planning, a free last will and testament in California can be used as evidence in court if a dispute arises. Therefore, you should have all the details of the will right from the beginning. An essential step to getting you started involves getting a last will and testament form in California. Among other things, you can use a will to outline what is to happen to your possessions and how to take care of your children, accounts, and interests.
- Before we jump into the prerequisites of a will, here are some of the ways you can use the will:
- Asset distribution
- Appointment of a guardian to care for minor kids when or if the other parent is unavailable. You wouldn’t want your kids to suffer or mismanage the inherited property, would you?
- Appointment of an executor: the person responsible for fulfilling your wishes
- Appointment of a caregiver for pets
- Creation of trusts
Thanks to the will, any residues from your assets or estate will go to a place you intended.
Note that the state provides a special and a streamlined process of asset allocation to the surviving spouses or any registered domestic partners. Through this process, the probate court is not involved in the asset allocation and distribution. Wondering how you could get started on this process? Well, if the will left by your spouse or your domestic partner indicates that the assets should pass to the surviving spouse or the domestic partner (registered), you may file the Spousal or the Domestic Partner Property Petition to avoid the complications associated with the probate court.
But, this is not the only process of avoiding the probate court – the probate court is easily avoidable if the testator left a maximum of 0,000. But, you should also be aware of the exceptions to the property the deceased left under your name especially if that amount is part of the calculations. For qualifying estates, the transfer of property may only require transfer through a written affidavit so that you don’t have to go through the extensive probate court process.
The Requirements of a last will and testament
- In the legal setting, the person creating the will is the testator or the decedent.
- The person you appoint to make decisions and ensure execution of the provisions of the will is the executor
- Persons who will benefit or inherit your estate are heirs or beneficiaries.
- The testator should be 18 years or older
- The testator should be capable of making reasonable decisions, and they should create the will out of their own volition.
- For the validity of a free California last will and testament, it should have the signatures of the testator, the person signing on behalf of and under the directives of the testator, and a conservator appointed by the court. It is also necessary to have a minimum of two adult witnesses sign the will.
- It should be in writing since oral wills are unacceptable.
- The format of the will should be standardized as per the provisions of code section Prob. §6100, et seq. And, any declarations should have details similar to those in the form
- This should enlist all beneficiaries of the testator’s estate. The beneficiaries of the estate/ property include, but not limited to societies, individuals, corporations, lodges, municipal corporations, and countries, among others.
Are there exceptions to property distribution?
Yes. You may not have the authority to distribute all the property with your name on them although you could gift assets with your name in the title.
- Properties you cannot distribute include:
- Joint tenancy property or community property
- Proceeds from life insurance – it has the name of the beneficiary
- Your retirement plan as it already has a designated beneficiary
- Living trusts
- Transfer on death (pay on death) accounts because they have designated beneficiaries.
Changing the details of a last will and testament
You can change the details of your last testament as you desire and California’s State Bar recommends reviewing the will periodically to address any matters that arise.
To change your will, you have to go through a process called codicil. Codicil refers to the amendment of a will following similar procedures followed when creating the original will. Crossing out sentences and words or adding new words next to the original content renders the will invalid.
How to revoke a will
A testator can expressly revoke the will in entirety or part
Burning, obliterating, tearing, canceling, or any other form of destruction constitutes revocation, as long as the testator had the intention of revoking the will. Intention to revoke could also be communicated by someone else but, in the presence and under the direction of the testator.
Does estate planning sound like something you want to do in the next few days? Get our last will and testament form today to get started.