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Last Will and Testament

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document in which you describe who your property should be distributed to upon your death. Beyond property distribution, a will gives you the ability to name the guardian of your minor children and appoint an individual to oversee and distribute your estate (the executor). If you do not have a will or other testamentary document, your property will be distributed according to the default rules of California and your wishes will not be taken into consideration. For example, close friends will receive nothing. Your will is essentially your last words to your family and friends, so it is important that you consider how you would like your property distributed.

Reasons to Have a Will

Minor Children

One of the most important reasons to have a will is to name the guardian of your minor children in the event that you die. If you do not, it will ultimately be up to the court to decide who your children's guardian becomes, regardless of your wishes. Therefore, if you have minor children, it is extremely important to have a will that states who their guardian will be.

Proper Distribution of Property

If you do not have a will or trust that lays out the manner in which you would like your property to be distributed, then it will be allocated based on California's pre-determined distribution scheme. This means that if you would like for your property to go to anyone who is not blood-related, you must have a will or trust indicating so. Similarly, if you would like to split the property among various family members (some to kids, some to cousins, etc.), you must have a will or trust that describes who will receive what. Finally, if you would like some individuals to receive more than others, you must have a legal document describing this.

Charitable Contribution

Another element that individuals also sometimes include in their will is a charitable contribution. If you would like to leave a gift to charity at your death, then you must create a legal document that indicates so.

How Do I Make a Will?

Under California Probate Code § 6100, anyone who is at least 18 years of age and of sound mind can probexecute a will. The individual making the will must have the mental capacity to know he or she is writing a will, understand the nature of his or her property, and understand his or her relationships to living family members. Cal. Prob. Code § 6100.5.

Although it is possible make a will on your own, it is very beneficial to use estate planning attorney when doing so. This document will not come into effect until after your death, so you will be unable to clarify any mistakes or ambiguities. Therefore, it is important that you have an experienced attorney draft this document on your behalf. Our attorneys will ensure that your will fully and properly carries out your wishes.

How Much Does a Will Cost?

At Wadhwani & Shanfeld, we offer free consultations either over the phone or in any of our convenient offices throughout Southern California. We regularly meet with clients from the Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, and Antelope Valley areas. Our fees are competitive and we charge approximately $500 to $700 to draft your will, depending on the complexity of it.

Living Trust

If you have significant assets, a Living Trust may better suit your needs. In many circumstances, a combination of a will and a living trust will be executed to ensure that your property is distributed effectively. Read more about Trusts

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