A Last Will and Testament is the centerpiece of any comprehensive estate plan. No matter your age or financial situation, writing a will is the first step toward creating an estate plan that protects your loved ones after you are gone.
Reasons to Create a Will
Your will serves a number of important functions. These include:
- Leave assets to loved ones. A will allows you to decide who will get your assets—including cash and investments, as well as family heirlooms with sentimental value. Without a will, your assets are distributed according to California’s intestate laws.
- Disinherit certain individuals. Families are complicated. If you are estranged from close relatives, having a will ensures they won’t stand to inherit under intestate law.
- Make charitable gifts and donations. If desired, your will can be used to provide support to non-profit organizations that are important to you.
- Minimize estate taxes. Working with an estate planning attorney to create your will can help you clearly identify opportunities to reduce tax liability.
- Name an executor. Choosing who you wish to oversee the administration of your estate is essential. You need to choose someone who is responsible and trustworthy, as well as an alternate if your first choice becomes unavailable for some reason.
- Choose a guardian for your children. If you are a parent with minor children at home, this is perhaps the most important reason you need a will. If you don’t choose a guardian who shares your values and parenting philosophy, the state will step in to decide who is going to raise your children.
- Speed up the probate process. With a valid will, the state’s probate process can be completed more quickly. This will reduce the burden placed on your heirs during their time of grief.
Updating an Existing Will
Like other estate planning documents, wills should be reviewed regularly to ensure they still reflect your wishes. For example, if you’ve divorced and remarried, you probably no longer wish to leave the bulk of your assets to your former spouse. Or, if a new child or grandchild has been born, you wouldn’t want to accidentally disinherit the youngest member of the family.
When you make a new will, a statement needs to be added to the top of the document to reflect that it revokes all previous wills. Additionally, copies of your previous will should be destroyed to prevent any confusion as to your wishes.
Why You Need Professional Guidance
Your will provides for your loved ones after you are gone. This means that it is vital that the document is prepared correctly. When you choose to work with San Diego Legacy Law, you can be confident that your will:
- Uses precise language. Ambiguous language opens the door to having your will challenged in court. Every word must be chosen carefully to ensure your will is legally sound, especially if you plan to distribute your assets to heirs in an unequal fashion.
- Accounts for your unique needs. Do-it-yourself will templates only cover the bare minimum. If you have a blended family or are living with someone you are not married to, for example, you need an attorney who can ensure everyone is provided for in the way that you intended.
- Creates contingency plans. Our estate planning attorney can make sure your will has accounted for all possible contingencies. For example, what would you want to happen if your main beneficiary or the guardian you selected for your children was involved in the same accident that caused your death? Asking these questions now prevents any possibility of confusion.
- Considers assets that must be distributed separately. Contrary to popular belief, not all assets can be passed through a will. Separate provisions need to be made for life insurance proceeds, retirement plans, “pay on death” accounts, and any assets held in a living trust. Working with our experienced estate planning attorney ensures you have a comprehensive plan for all of your assets.
Schedule a Consultation Today
San Diego Legacy Law serves clients throughout San Diego, as well as those in La Jolla, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, El Cajon, Poway, Spring Valley, Chula Vista, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Novato, and Healdsburg. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning and asset protection needs.