Purpose of a Will in Your Estate Plan
A Will is a legal document that describes how your property should be distributed upon your death, who should manage the administration process (i.e., who the Executor of the Will is), and who should become the guardian of your minor children. However, a Will generally goes through Probate. Only a Living Trust keeps your property and your family out of Probate court. Probate can take many months and is very expensive. As such, your estate plan should be designed to avoid Probate entirely. To do so, you will need to set up a Trust.
A living Trust provides for the administration of your assets during your life and on incapacity, and the distribution of your assets at death, entirely outside of Probate - provided your Trust is funded. In your living Trust, you will name a Trustee to take charge of your assets and make distributions pursuant to the terms of your Trust after you die. Transferring your property to your Trust is a critical step in avoiding Probate.
Trusts are not “one size fits all,” and there is no such thing as “only a simple Trust.” The complexity of a trust does not depend upon what you own; rather, it also depends on who is receiving your property. Trusts can be structured in different ways to fit your specific family dynamic and your unique legacy goals. When you call the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC, our Trust attorney can discuss your specific circumstances, and prepare a custom-designed Estate plan for you and your family.
Helping You Protect What Matters Most
At the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC, we bring two decades of experience helping clients create and administer their trusts, wills and other critical estate planning documents. We don't just draft estate plans - we administer them too. And for those who don't have a trust - we help the family in Probate Court.
There is no time like the present to make sure your loved ones have what they need for years to come. Contact our Los Angeles lawyer online or call (424) 383-8445 to schedule your initial consultation today.
Creating a Will in California
No matter where you live in the world, a Will is a document that gives specific instructions regarding the distribution of your Estate and the care of your dependents. State law, however, dictates the finer details, such as what procedures you will need to follow in order for your will to be validly executed and legally binding.
A valid Will can designate the individuals and/or entities that will:
- Receive your funds, assets, and personal property
- Manage and oversee the Estate Administration process (i.e. Will Executor)
- Manage the Estate(s) of your children and other dependents (i.e. Financial Guardian)
- Care for your children and other dependents (i.e. Personal Guardian)
Upon your death, a Probate Court will most likely need to assess the validity of your Will, and the Executor you appointed will conduct and oversee the administration of your Estate. In some cases, Probate will not be necessary (such as with non-Probate Transfers or Small Estate Affidavits), but a Will is a critical component of your Estate Plan whether or not your Estate goes through probate.
The Consequences of Dying Without a Will
If you die Intestate (i.e. without a Will), or you created a Will but the Court deems it to be invalid, the Probate process may become much more complicated. Additionally, the Court will distribute your Estate according to California's Intestate Succession Law codified in the Probate Code. In other words, your preference regarding who receives what will not be upheld, and your testamentary wishes will not be legally binding.
In general, a thorough and valid Will can greatly reduce the stress your loved ones experience after your passing. Taking the time today to consult with our attorney and make these difficult decisions can save time, a whole lot of money, and unnecessary stress for your friends and family members should something happen to you.
Customizing Your Estate Plan
Are you interested in minimizing Estate Taxes, potentially avoiding Probate, and accomplishing other goals that a simple Will cannot address? You may benefit from setting up a living Trust, and our lawyer can help determine which type of trust is best for your situation. Our attorney can also assist you with other Estate Planning documents, such as Powers of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directives, and more.