Do You Have Your Will Ready?
Whether you are retired or just starting your family, creating a will for your assets is one of the best things you can do for your family. Wills are essential to ensuring that your hard work and time are not wasted after you are gone. Unfortunately, without the proper documents, your estate can easily get into the wrong hands or be handed over to the state.
However, it can do more harm than good to create a will the wrong way. Probate law is very specific, and if you fail to follow the procedure correctly, you will leave your beneficiaries nothing. To protect your Palm Springs estate, have an estate planning attorney on your side to ensure that your estate is in order.
Requirements to Make a Will
There are very few requirements in place to make a will, meaning that you can do it at any time as long as you meet the following criteria:
- If the will is typed, you must sign the document, and two non-beneficiaries must witness it.
- You must be 18 years of age or older.
- You must hand write your first draft, which two non-beneficiaries must witness.
- You are of sound mind.
When you hire an estate planning attorney, they will be able to advise you on how best to follow the necessary criteria. Further restrictions depend on what kind of assets you are leaving.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
If you pass away without a proper will, a few things will happen. If you have a spouse or beneficiary on certain accounts, such as bank accounts, those will be transferred to the proper person. In many cases, you select a beneficiary for these when you open the account. If you are unsure whether you have done this, you can check with the organization or business to find out. If the account is joint, the other person on the account will become the owner.
If you own property, the property will likely go to your spouse if you have one. If you are not married, or if your spouse is already deceased, the property will likely go to the state as community property.
Essentially, without a will, you cannot stop your assets from going to the state instead of to your children and grandchildren.
What Type of Lawyer Prepares a Will?
Estate planning attorneys are the experts when it comes to securing your will. With education and background in this type of law, we are poised to protect your assets after you die. The laws surrounding wills and trusts are very complicated, and most attorneys do not have the complex understanding of probate law that an estate planning attorney does. We can help you be sure that your will is thorough, specific, and your assets go to the right beneficiaries after you pass.
Can I Make a Will Without a Lawyer?
Technically you can write a simple will without an attorney. As long as you get it notarized, the document will be valid. However, this is not a wise choice, especially if you have several assets to bequeath. If you don’t follow perfect protocol, it is entirely possible for your will to be null and void accidentally. What’s more, it will likely be put through probate rather than overseen by your trustees.
Your Lawyer as a Trustee
One of the best parts about developing a will with a qualified estate attorney is that it gives you the reassurance that your assets will be distributed in the way you wish. The administration of your estate to the proper beneficiaries is a unique job. Therefore, it is helpful to know that an impartial third party, such as your attorney, will act as your trustee to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Some people use a family member as a trustee. Though this is legal, it does present several issues and can create significant rifts in your family after you are gone. Even the kindest families get greedy or ruthless in times of emotional hardship, and if you don’t have someone who is impartial, it can be easy for them to try to redistribute your assets. Even if they stick to your terms, the person in the trustee position usually ends up in a tricky spot.
For example, if you name your daughter as your trustee, she is responsible for informing the family of what they are owed from your estate, and she is responsible for ensuring that they get what they are owed. This is a huge responsibility on its own. But it can get worse. For example, let’s say that your sister believes there was a mistake because you didn’t leave her enough. Your sister will likely take out this issue on your daughter, putting your mourning daughter in the difficult place of defending your wishes.
All in all, having your attorney act as your trustee is much better for the health and sanity of your family.
It is a good idea to write a will as soon as you have any significant assets or a significant beneficiary, i.e., you own a home, or you get married and have a spouse. For many people, these events happen earlier in adulthood. Generally speaking, most people live for a long time after this, which means their will needs to change to be effective. It would be pointless to keep a will that bequeaths a home or land that you do not own anymore.
You will need to update your will at least a few times in your life, depending on how frequently you move, gain capital, have children, remarry, etc. Though it is uncomfortable to think about, keeping your will current protects your family in the case of a sudden death. In addition, if your will is up to date, they won’t have to battle with the state for your assets while they are grieving.
Wills and Bankruptcy
If you are planning to leave any of your assets to a person or persons who file bankruptcy or who are severely in debt, it is essential to note that their inheritance may be seized by the court and applied to their debts. Probate courts may also decide that this influx of capital means that the inheritor can make higher payments on their debts than they are currently making. This could very easily put your family member in the position of making regular payments that they cannot afford or making it seem like they have more money than they really do.
Though there is no one solution to this issue, your estate planning attorney can advise you on navigating situations like these. There are ways to ensure that an inheritance does not become a financial burden rather than the asset it is meant to be.
Do Lawyers Keep Copies of Client’s Wills?
Many law offices will keep the original copy of your will in a locked safe. This ensures that your attorney can probate your will at the time of death and ensures that you do not lose or misplace it. Of course, you are entitled to keep a copy of the will in your home or office. However, it is likely in your best interest to leave the original with your attorney. Then, your family will only need to know your attorney’s name and contact information to access their legal services when you pass.
How Much Does It Cost to Leave a Will?
Every attorney has a different pricing system for their services. It is important that you ask your attorney about their pricing and refrain from making any assumptions about how much they will charge. In general, however, drafting a will with an attorney is not prohibitively expensive. Though you could save some money and do it yourself, the errors mentioned above can quickly happen when you attempt to undergo the process alone. It is not very much more to have an attorney help you, and you can be sure that your will is legallysound and without error.
Why an Attorney From the Bochnewich Law Offices?
As one of the foremost probate law offices in California, the attorneys at Bochnewich Law Offices are ready and eager to help you draft your will. No matter your situation, we can help you develop a will that you feel good about and bring you peace of mind. As a hardworking firm based on family values, we know how much it means to leave the fruits of your hard work to your family after you die. We work tirelessly to ensure that every one of our clients has the ability to leave their family members with the inheritances that they deserve. We give you the assurance that your wishes will be flawlessly executed when you pass, and there will be no contention or arguing over your will.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney You Can Trust
For high-quality estate attorney services and probate services in Palm Desert, contact the expert attorneys at Bochnewich Law Firm today.