A simple or basic will allows you to specifically say the way in which you want your assets to be distributed among your beneficiaries after your death. This can be a good starting point for creating a comprehensive estate plan because you may need more than just a basic will.
KAKE’s recent article entitled “What Is a Simple Will and How Do You Make One?” explains that a last will and testament is a legal document that states what you want to happen to your property and “worldly goods” when you die. A simple will can be used to designate an executor for the will and a legal guardian for minor children and specify who (or which organizations) should inherit your assets when you die.
A will must be approved in the probate process when you pass away. After the probate court reviews the will to make sure it’s valid, your executor will take care of the collection and distribution of assets listed in the will. Your executor would also be responsible for paying any debts owed by your estate from the assets in your estate.
Whether you need a basic will or something more complex, usually depends on a few factors, including your age, the size of your estate and if you have children (and their ages). The probate process in California takes about 1-2 years to complete. During that time, none of the beneficiaries can receive their bequests. If you have an estate in California that exceeds $166,250, we recommend that you have a trust to avoid the probate process all together and speed up the administration of your estate.
Having a will in place can be a good starting point for estate planning. However, deciding if it should be simple or complex can depend on a number of factors, such as:
- The size of your estate
- The amount of estate tax you expect to owe
- The type of assets and property you own
- Whether you own a business
- The number of beneficiaries you want to name
- Whether the beneficiaries are individuals or organizations (like charities)
- Any significant life changes you anticipate, like marriages, divorces, or having more children; and
- Whether any of your children or beneficiaries have special needs.
With these situations, you may need a more detailed will to plan how you want your assets to be distributed. In any event, work with an experienced estate planning attorney. With life or financial changes, you may need to create a more complex will or consider a trust. It is smart to speak with an estate planning attorney, who can help you determine which components to include in your plan and help you keep it updated.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like your plan for safe, problem free, and successful transfer of assets to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to review your estate plan and identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
For more information and articles on estate planning, probate, trust law, and business planning, please visit our website and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.
Reference: KAKE (Nov. 23, 2020) “What Is a Simple Will and How Do You Make One?”