To draft an effective will in a timely and professional manner, contact Green & Stewart Attorneys at Law today. Our estate planning attorneys in Pasadena are highly skilled and experienced in this complex area of law and can help you with all your estate needs. Call us today at and set up a case evaluation.
What is a Will?
A will or final testament is a document that states your final wishes including, in some cases, directions to the probate court for disposition of your estate. We have a vast wealth of experience in drafting wills, even for modern families.
Currently, only one in four families resemble the traditional nuclear family that many of us grew up watching on television. Many households today may include additional members, such as a parent of the head of the household, whilst lacking a mother or father. Many families today choose to not have children altogether. In some cases, individuals may be in a stable, committed relationship for decades, but never officially get married. All of these situations may create significant challenges if a person dies intestate (without a will).
What Are the Benefits of a Will?
A will has many benefits, including serving as a backup to an already existing trust. The field of estate planning is littered with individuals who treated their living trust as a onetime ordeal that ended the moment they left their attorney’s office. That is simply not the case.
A trust, if not periodically updated, will not include many recently acquired assets, therefore it is important that you have a properly drawn will with a pour over provision. A will can direct the probate court to distribute assets left outside of the trust, which are to be distributed in the same manner that the trust assets are.
During your lifetime, a will is a private document. You need not disclose the terms of the will or the existence of a will to a soul. As your attorneys, we would be prohibited from disclosing even the smallest details of our conversations or dealings, or that conversation or dealings even occurred at all. This privacy allows you to live your life comfortably without fear of alienating friends or family members who may or may not be included in your will.
A will also serves as the proper place to direct the transfer of your personal or family heirlooms. Many times, children will quarrel in courts over personal or family heirlooms because no proper direction was given by a parent before they passed away. The quickest, cheapest, and most efficient way for a parent to stop this from occurring is to have our firm draw up a will that properly outlines all of the specific bequests that will be made to family, friends, and charity.
An overwhelming majority of our clients feel that the most important reason for having a will is to keep their family intact and in peace after they pass away. It is our experience that the family members of deceased individuals who end up in court fighting over an estate aren’t bad people, but are good people that were left in a bad position. Crystal clear direction through a properly drawn will demonstrate exactly what your intentions were before you passed away and place an end to an overwhelming majority of the controversy before it begins.
Who Can Create a Will?
Very few legal requirements exist in creating a will. First, you must be 18 years of age. Next, you must have “capacity” and be of “sound mind”, or, in other words, know what property you own and be able to understand the consequence of leaving this property to others upon your death. Next, you must sign your will. An unsigned will carries next to no legal weight or significance. Finally, your will should be witnessed and signed by two individuals who are both of sound mind.
As described above, the process of creating your will may seem quite easy on the surface, however as most things in life, the devil is always in the details. All it takes is one invalid restriction on a particular asset or other seemingly harmless wording to invalidate a crucial part of this extremely important document.
Do I Need a Will?
Yes. A will is a core component of a properly drawn estate plan. Many individuals feel that a living or revocable trust is all they need to “get by” but this could not be further from the truth. Without a properly drawn will, the state may apportion your assets to individuals who you never intended to profit from your decades of hard work. Furthermore, many people that you consider family may be left without important family heirlooms or high valued assets that you intended them to receive. In a worst-case scenario, your entire estate may escheat to the state of California (be left to the state of California).
How is a Will Created?
A will, like a living trust, is best created when the attorney helping you draft the document is both a skilled drafter and a deft listener. At Green & Stewart Attorneys at Law, our attorneys pride ourselves on our client communication skills and the willingness to follow up with clients to make sure the job is done correctly the first time around.
The first step in drafting your will is our consultation, where our attorneys may ask you a few questions and allow you to express what you would like to happen to your estate from beginning to end. Once we have gathered all of your pertinent information, we will begin drafting your documents, carefully crafting key elements of your will to match exactly what your desires are.
Once we have finished drafting your will, we will invite you back to one of our offices to witness your signature, to ensure that little to no challenges can be made to the procedure in which the will was made.
What if I Pass Away without a Will?
When an individual passes away intestate, meaning without a will, then their estate is divided according to California Probate 6401. This section of the probate code can be quite rigid and unforgiving for the family members of individuals who pass away without a will. Horror stories of new wives inheriting a disproportionate share, or un-adopted children who were always loved and care for as if natural children receiving nothing, abound.
In today’s society, where nearly three-quarters of families are not what are referred to as nuclear families (only a mother, father, and children), it is more important than ever for families to protect themselves from the harsh and unforgiving probate courts.