Do I Really Need a Will when living in California?

There are certain financial goals that it's important to check off your list, like having enough money in a savings account to cover emergency expenses and eliminating unhealthy debt. However, here's one goal many people gloss over -- creating a will.

The truth is that drafting your will can be an uncomfortable experience. That’s because nobody wants to consider their own mortality. However, you need to move past that discomfort and put that key document into place.  It’s a gift to your family if your affairs are in order when you pass.

No matter if you’re wealthy or have little to no assets, a will is an important document to have.

MSN’s recent article entitled “4 Reasons to Get a Will if You Don’t Have One Already” says that a big myth is that there’s no reason to have a will, if you hardly have any money.  In California, if you have assets that exceed $166,250 in gross value when you die and those assets don’t automatically pass to a beneficiary, then those assets are subject to probate.  If you have no will, the state of California determines the beneficiaries to your assets.  If you have a will, you can name your specific beneficiaries to your assets but your estate will still go through probate.  Consider a trust if your assets exceed $166,250.

Wills are not just for the wealthy. No matter your situation, there are four reasons why it is important to have one.

  1. Control what happens to your assets. You may only have a couple of thousand dollars in the bank and limited assets of value, like a computer and an older car that is about ready to pass away. However, wouldn’t you like to be the one who says where those assets will go upon your passing? Without a will, you will not necessarily get to do that. However, if you draft a will, you can detail the way you want your assets divided, including the computer and your clunker.
  2. Be sure someone you know, and trust will care for your children. If you have minor children, it is very important that you draft a will. Without a legal will, you will not have a clear plan for their care in the event of your death.  You can name guardians for your children in your will.  To that end, you should talk to trusted family members and friends about who might be willing to step up and raise your children, if needed.
  3. Create a contingency plan for your pets. Your pets rely on you to provide food, shelter and care, and there is no way you’d willingly dump them out on the street. Avoid a situation where your pets end up neglected when you pass away. Have some discussions to see who in your life would be willing to take in your pets, should the need arise.
  4. Peace of mind. While the actual process of drafting might stir up some unsettling feelings, once it is done, you might breathe a sigh of relief because you’ll have completed an unpleasant task. You will also have your final wishes mapped out clearly and legally.

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: MSN (Jan. 23, 2022) “4 Reasons to Get a Will if You Don’t Have One Already”

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