According to AARP, only four in ten American adults have a will or other estate plan. Baby boomers are much more likely to have a will than younger adults—58 percent of those in this category do have a will. Even though we all know we should have an estate plan, there always seems to be a good reason to postpone the actual process. Young adults may believe they have plenty of time, so they fail to prioritize it. Others may believe it’s easier to let a trusted loved one handle their affairs following death or incapacitation. However, your estate must go through probate even if you do not have a will.
With no will in place, California will determine who gets what based on the state’s intestate succession laws. If you are considering some level of estate planning, having a knowledgeable attorney for wills in San Jose, CA, from Steburg Law Firm can make a significant difference in your experience and the results.
The Risks of Failing to Have a Will in the State of California
There are specific risks to failing to have a will in place upon your passing. Without a will, there is no executor. The state must then appoint another person to act as administrator of your estate. The person the state chooses could be someone you would have never chosen to distribute your estate. Further, appointing an executor adds delay and expense—and could even result in the loss of assets. If you have minor children and die without a will, you have not named a guardian for your children. This could have truly devastating consequences. A family member you would not have chosen may be appointed as guardian to raise your children—or worse, if no family members are available, your children could be placed in foster care.
Without a will, your preferences regarding whether you want to be cremated or buried or what type of funeral service you want will likely be disregarded. Suppose you don’t make your wishes clearly known; the service or whether you are buried or cremated could be contrary to your own beliefs and wishes. When you fail to plan for the future, the assets you have worked for could go to family members you would not have chosen under intestate succession laws. The state will determine the end of your loved one’s finances, and the government may take a portion of your assets as a fee for these services. Absent a will, family members could become embroiled in arguments about dispensing your assets or who becomes the guardian for your children.
What Are the Requirements for a California Will?
The requirements for a will may vary from state to state; in the state of California, the following requirements are in place:
- You must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind. This means you fully understand what it means to make a will, the nature of your relationships, and the extent of your assets.
- The will must be in writing—either handwritten or typewritten. Having only a digital copy of your will is not legal in the state of California, nor are oral wills.
- There must be no undue influence on you when you make the will.
- Your will must be signed by at least two competent, disinterested people. This means those who will benefit from your will should not be witnesses. These witnesses will sign your will at the same time as you.
What is the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?
A Last Will and Testament and a Living Will are very different instruments with very different purposes—a will details whom you want to inherit your assets after your death. A will can also designate a guardian for your minor children. A living will is a legal document that lets you specify your healthcare preferences if you become incapacitated. A living will covers your preferences regarding ventilators, blood transfusions, types and levels of pain medications, feeding tubes, resuscitation orders, organ donation, and much more. A living will is also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive and can ensure your loved ones can navigate difficult medical decisions knowing those decisions are being made according to your wishes.
Issues Commonly Associated with Wills, Including Intestate Succession
When you prepare your own DIY will—or fail to have a choice—issues can arise. Perhaps you do not have the required witness signatures, or there is no clause in the will stating you are of sound mind. If your will is not dated, it can be impossible to know which will is the most current when multiple wills are presented to the court. Your will may not be specific enough as to terms and conditions or may fail to state what the will’s purpose is.
If you relocate from one state to another, there is the likelihood that an older will not conform to the new state’s laws, leading to jurisdictional issues. If you fail to have a will or any other type of estate plan—known as intestate succession—the state of California will make important decisions about asset distribution and a guardian for your children.
How Can You Select the Best Attorney for Wills in San Jose to Meet Your Child’s Needs Now and In the Future?
For estates large and small, it is important to find an attorney to draft your will that will listen to your wishes and ensure they are executed. You should look for attorneys versed in all aspects of estate planning, including how faulty wills may be challenged.
At Steinberg Law Firm, we hope you will allow us to discuss your will and other estate planning documents with you. We are confident that once you have spoken to attorneys Anita Steburg and Anam Hasan, you will know you have found the right firm for all your estate planning needs.
How the Steburg Law Firm Will Protect Your Family and Preserve Your Legacy
When you meet with an attorney for wills in San Jose from Steburg Law Firm, we will comprehensively discuss your goals and objectives, current situation, and future needs. We strive to preserve your legacy while ensuring that loved ones are cared for in the manner you choose. Steinberg Law Firm is woman-owned and family-focused. You will benefit from our experience, knowledge, and skills, but more importantly, we know you will be able to put your trust in Steburg Law Firm, ending up with a will or estate plan that accomplishes all your objectives. Contact Steburg Law Firm today to speak to an experienced attorney for wills in San Jose.