At some point in time, most people consider what will happen to their estate once they are gone. Unfortunately, many people put all making such plans due to the unpleasant nature of such considerations. Planning for the future after your death can certainly be difficult, stressful, and time-consuming. However, not preparing your estate can be a costly mistake for your loved ones. Instead of putting off your estate planning, take action to educate yourself and reach out to an experienced attorney, like an estate lawyer in Sacramento, CA, with any questions.
Creating a Clear, Valid Will
The most important question you need to ask before creating a will is, “What are my wishes for my estate?” In other words, it is important that you take the time necessary to decide how you want your estate distributed after your death. A will gives you flexibility to set aside property and assets for loved ones. Clarity during the will writing process will benefit your family after your death. A clear will may help calm any disputes about your will, and thus may help your loved ones avoid a drawn-out probate process.
Perhaps one of the most common questions will attorneys hear is, “Can I just write down my wishes instead of creating a formal will?” Legally, this is called a “holographic will;” that is, a handwritten will. In many states, such wills are valid if they meet certain requirements. However, it can be difficult to prove that a handwritten will is legally valid after the creator has died. By merely relying on a handwritten will, you could be exposing your family to needless legal confusion and potentially lengthy courts costs regarding the will’s validity. Moreover, a handwritten will may be prepared hastily. By rushing through the process just to get it out of the way, you may be missing key elements that ensure your wishes are carried out.
Another common question many people ask when preparing their wills is, “Is my will going to go through probate?” Probate is a legal process during which a judge administers the will. That is, the judge will wrap up your affairs by means of the probate process. Any claims that the will is invalid are heard and litigated during probate. Often, wills are probated. However, not every will must go through the probate process. Additionally, some wills go through a simplified, speedier version of probate. Whether and how your will is probated will depend on several factors, including the value of your estate after death. If you are concerned about the probate process, be sure to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Your attorney can explain this process fully, and help you explore other beneficial options.
As you consider creating your will, you will likely have many more questions beyond those mentioned above.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning.