Sunday, January 27, 2013

Probate Attorney in Orange County Explains the Different Kinds of Wills


Are you considering preparing a Will?  If you are a resident of California, you have three ways to prepare a will. As a probate attorney in Orange County I am very familiar with how this works and will explain it to you in this blog post.

                The holographic will may be the easiest to prepare since the entire documents is written in your own handwriting.  As such, your penmanship must be legible and the contents must be clear as to what you are bequeathing and to whom.   It must be signed and dated by the estate owner.   A holographic will does not have to be notarized nor have witnesses. 

                The person must take care though not to insert any typed materials or marks in the will as that may invalidate the entire document.  Including typed materials will require two witnesses.   When making a holographic will, it is important for you to seek the help of an attorney. One who has the experience and competence to review such wills.

                In the Internet Age, you can prepare a will using a pro forma will form which can be downloaded from the California State Bar website.  This is known as a statutory will.  This type of will is useful for people with relatively small estates. However, you may want to insert a provision outside of the will form or add an unusual or complicated clause.  In such cases, better consult an expert estate planning lawyer who may help you see the unintended consequences of your insertions.

                Finally, there is a will that is prepared by your lawyer.  While wills can be prepared by non-lawyers, a qualified probate attorney from Orange County can assist you in preparing your will and ensure that your will aligns with the statutes of California.  The lawyer can give you suggestions and assist you in understanding the various means wherein your assets can be transferred to or for your beneficiaries.

Your attorney can also help you create a comprehensive estate plan and suggest alternative plans that may help you save taxes. You may pay for attorney’s fees upfront, but in the long-run, this type of planning can help you save money.  Your estate planning attorney can even go the extra mile by personally overseeing the signing of your will.  On the other hand, he can give you specific instructions on how to execute your will.  Your lawyer will remind you that your witnesses must not be beneficiaries of your will.
Holographic, statutory or one prepared by your attorney. Whatever your will, make sure that it is solely your will alone. It should not be a joint will with your spouse or anybody else. 

In California, please remember that any will you make will not cover events such as physical or mental incapacity or unconsciousness.  If you want to prepare for such contingencies, you may draft a durable power of attorney or other health care directives.  Again, a probate attorney in Orange County can assist you in preparing these documents.