A will is a basic, essential tool in an estate plan, but many people bear misconceptions about whether they need one and the advantages it can provide. Contrary to popular assumption, a will is not just for the rich and it can offer benefits for individuals at all levels of net worth. However, because of the impact on your future and your loved ones, it is essential to understand exactly how a will works. The Law Office of Kristina M. Reed advises clients on the factors to consider when preparing a will, especially if you want to consider making the will part of an overall estate plan.Advising You on Will and Estate Planning Options
California law governs the requirements for creating a will, such as the capacity of the person executing it and presence of witnesses. There are three basic roles in a valid will:
- The Testator, who appoints an executor, states terms regarding distribution of assets, and signs the will;
- The Executor, whose has the power and responsibility to manage the Testator’s estate, pay off creditors, and carry out the terms and conditions of the will; and,
- Beneficiaries, who receive specific bequests and other assets according to the Testator’s wishes.
With these three essential components in place, there are countless functions and objectives you can accomplish through your will.Advantages of Drafting a Will
Though the specific benefits will vary depending on your unique circumstances, those who execute a will can take advantage of:
Control Over Who Acts for You: The person you name as executor essentially steps into your shoes to pay creditors, manage your assets, distribute property, and other required tasks for winding down your affairs. You have the power to choose a person you trust and know will handle the responsibilities of the role.
Control Over Your Estate: If you do not have a will, your assets are distributed according to the laws of descendancy in California. This may result in your real estate and personal property going to people you never intended.
Lower Cost and Time Investment in the Probate Process: An intestate estate goes through multiple time-consuming, expensive proceedings. First, someone must petition to act as personal representative; without a will, multiple individuals may file competing petitions. Second, the representative must manage assets and distribute them according to California law. Any disputes must go through litigation. The process from beginning to end is extremely expensive and time-consuming if you do not have a will.
Of course, you may want to consider a will as part of a comprehensive estate plan, as well. Certain arrangements can provide benefits even during your lifetime, such as:
- California General Durable Power of Attorney;
- Advance Health Care Directive;
- A Revocable Trust, also known as a living will; and,
- Many other options.
If you want to know more the benefits, requirements, and functions of a will, please contact the Law Office of Kristina M. Reed. You can schedule a consultation at our Sacramento, CA by calling 916-492-6033.