Huntington Beach Will Lawyer

Huntington Beach Will Lawyer

It is unpleasant to think about your death, and what will happen to your property after you’re gone, but it is crucial to ensure security for your Huntington Beach, CA loved ones. Wills are an important aspect of estate planning, which is planning for what will happen to your assets, debts, and care when you are incapacitated or have passed away. A will can allow you and your family to have peace of mind. Grieving a loved one is hard enough, and it can be much more difficult when there is no will to designate where things will go and who will take care of what.

To ensure your will is legally sound, it is crucial to have the help of an estate planning lawyer on your side. With nearly 30 years of experience, Kevin Rice, Attorneys At Law, is equipped with extensive knowledge to make sure that your rights are protected during the process of creating a will. We can make creating your will as easy and smooth as possible, so you can go on living your life without worrying about what happens after you pass away.

Huntington Beach Will Lawyer

What Is a Will?

A will is a document in which you can designate how you would like your property to be distributed after you die. You can also name an executor, who will oversee distributing your property as you wrote in your will upon your death. The people you name in a will who will receive the property are known as beneficiaries. You can name beneficiaries as you like. However, there are some rare exceptions.

If you have a spouse in California, and do not name them as a beneficiary, there are state laws protecting spouses. These laws may still give them property if the spouses got married after the one who passed had already signed their will. This is only true if the omission of the spouse was unintentional and the omitted spouse did not agree to waive their rights to their spouse’s estate. In this case, the spouse omitted from the will would receive:

  • Half of the community property, which is property gained during the marriage with assets earned during the marriage
  • Half the quasi-community property
  • A share of the separate property, which is gained before the marriage, that belongs to the spouse who passed away

In addition, children who are not named beneficiaries may receive assets if it can be proved that their parent was unaware of their existence at the time the will was written.

There are some legal requirements that a will must meet in California. The person creating the will, known as the testator, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The will must be signed by the testator as well as two witnesses. However, if the testator cannot physically sign the will, they can have someone else do it for them. Additionally, the will does not have to be notarized.

There are certain qualifications that the witnesses must meet:

  • The witnesses must sign the will while they are with each other and the testator.
  • They must witness the testator sign their will.
  • They must understand that the will belongs to the testator who signed it.
  • They must be of sound mind as well.

To avoid unnecessary conflicts of interest, the testator should make the witnesses people who are not named beneficiaries. This is not technically required, but a witness may have to forfeit some of the assets they were given in the will if it is presumed that they were named as a beneficiary, as they may be suspected of committing some kind of undue influence or bribe.

Some assets, like life insurance, death benefits, and retirement accounts, have their own named beneficiaries, so your will won’t apply to them.

If you want to change or revoke your will, you can do so at any time in California by destroying the copy or by creating a new one that contradicts the old one or rescinds it. It is recommended to revoke your will and write another if you’d like to change it, but if the changes are very minor, you can make an amendment, called a codicil, to add to your current will.

If you signed your will in one state and passed away in another, don’t worry. Most often, the state you die in will recognize your will as long as it is legal under the laws of the state it was created in. To assure that your will is legal under California law, it is advised to have an attorney present while creating your will.

California does not allow digital wills currently; your will must be in writing. Therefore, it is very important that you store it in a safe place so it does not get damaged or lost and can be found quickly after your death.

Do I Need a Will?

It is not legally required to have a will, but it is strongly advised so that your family doesn’t have to go through the long, complicated process of a probate court distributing your assets according to California law. Furthermore, if you want to be the person who determines where your property goes after your death, you should create a will. Otherwise, your property will be distributed according to the default plan under the state’s intestacy laws. Also, if you have any children who are minors, you can explain in a will who you would like to be their guardians if you pass away.

What Happens If I Pass Away Without a Will?

If you die in California without a will, this is known as dying intestate. The laws determining inheritance without a will are very complex. In California, community property is the property you gain during your marriage. Separate property is what each spouse had before the marriage. In this state, under inheritance law:

  • Domestic partnerships are considered marriages.
  • Any child born into a marriage is considered a legal child.
  • Half-siblings are considered full siblings.

If you have stepchildren, stepparents, or foster children, they will hardly ever receive any inheritance. Therefore, if you want them to receive any of your assets after your death, it is crucial to make a will.

If you die and are married with no other close family members, your spouse will receive all your property. If you pass away with children and a spouse, the spouse will receive your half of the community property. In this case, if you have one child, they will receive half of your separate property. If you have more than one child, each child will get the same amount of two-thirds of your separate property, and the rest will go to your spouse.

If you have no spouse, the first people your property will go to are your children, if you have them. Next, it will go to your parents and then any siblings. If you have a spouse but no children, and your parents survive you, your spouse will inherit half of your separate property and all your community property, and your parents will inherit the rest of your separate property. If your parents are not alive, but your siblings are, half of the separate property will go to them.

If you pass away leaving no spouse, children, parents, or siblings, your property will be distributed in this order:

  • Uncles and aunts
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Grandparents
  • Great uncles and aunts
  • Cousins
  • If your spouse has already passed, their children, parents, and siblings

Can I Create a Will by Myself?

It is not legally required to have a lawyer create a will. However, it is strongly recommended to ensure that everything is legal. The legalities around wills are complex, and estate planning lawyers have the experience and knowledge to ensure that your assets can be distributed as you wish. There are also certain cases when it is especially important to have an attorney, namely, if you do not wish to leave your spouse any assets or if you think it is possible that someone may contest your will. If your will is contested, it is very important that it is legally sound and can stand up in court.

What Is Probate, and When Does It Occur?

Probate is the process of your assets being distributed legally in probate court, and it must happen, even if you have a will, if your assets total over $184,500. If you have a will, your executor can file it within 30 days of your death.

Then, the court will validate the will and appoint an executor, who will:

  • Find your debts and assets.
  • Pay any taxes and debts.
  • File a petition with the court to close the estate.

Next, the court can approve the petition, close the estate, and have the executor distribute the property according to the will. The executor is usually a family member, and this process can be very stressful and taxing for them.

If you have a will and your estate is worth less than $184,500, you shouldn’t have to worry about probate unless you want the property to be distributed as soon as possible. After 40 days have passed since the death of the decedent, or the person who has died, the property can be distributed in a different way. The executor of the will can file what is called an Affidavit for Personal Transfer of Property. The executor can then present this to whoever is holding the assets, like a bank, and they are required to distribute the property to the beneficiaries named in the will. There are several other simplified transfer processes that California offers for estates that are worth less money.

Living Trusts and Pour-Over Wills

If your estate is worth over $184,500, your will must still undergo probate. Many people want to avoid the probate process because it can be lengthy and complicated and lead to disputes. The easiest and most common way to do this is by creating a living trust. You create a living trust while you’re alive, as the name would suggest. In it, you name beneficiaries who will receive the property in the trust after your death. If you create a revocable living trust, you can modify it at any time. This will allow your family to skip the probate process, which will save them headaches during an already difficult time.

If you decide to create a living trust, you should also create a will, which is, in this case, known as a pour-over will. The pour-over will can “catch” any property that was not included in the trust, adding it to the trust. This is important since, although you can update the trust whenever you wish, you will likely not remember to add all your property to it. You can also name an executor in this will who will oversee the transfer of assets from the will to the trust. The pour-over will is also crucial if you have any minor children, so that you can name a future guardian.

The safest way to create a living trust and pour-over will is with the help of a lawyer. Inheritance laws are complicated, and an experienced lawyer can sift through legal jargon to ensure that your assets are protected.

Contact a Huntington Beach Estate Planning Lawyer to Create Your Will

Creating a will is crucial for anyone who wants to be in control of their assets after their death, as well as for anyone who wants to protect their loved ones from potential disputes or complicated probate processes. With a lawyer, the process of creating a will, as well as any other estate planning you might do, is much easier.

At Kevin Rice, Attorneys At Law, we can ensure that your assets are inherited by the people you designate. We know your rights and can ensure that you are protected throughout all steps of the process. Your will should be legally sound, and you shouldn’t have to worry about the distribution of your property after you pass away. Contact us today to see how we can help you and your individual situation.

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