A will is a legal document that allows you to determine who will receive your assets after your death. It can also provide guidance on who will take care of your children, establish trusts for your children’s benefits and eliminate federal estate taxes. The requirements for creating a valid will vary from state to state. California’s Wills Laws are set up in the California Probate Code. California Wills Laws include the following basic requirements for a will to be considered as valid:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old at the time of writing the will.
Capacity: California Wills Laws require the testator to be of sound mind. Being of sound mind means that the testator must be able to understand the nature and purpose of the testamentary act. The testator must not suffer from any mental disorder resulting in delusions or hallucinations as well.
Signature: The will must be signed by the testator. If the testator is mentally or physically incapacitated, the will is to be signed by any other person in the testator’s name, in the testator’s presence or by the testator’s direction.
Witnesses: A valid will in California must be signed by at least two persons who are present at the time of writing the will. If one of the witnesses is also a beneficiary, he/she can keep his/her inheritance only when a third witness is present. If a lawyer drafts your will, he or she shouldn’t serve as a witness.
Format: California Wills Laws state that a will must be in writing form. California law does not oral wills. The holographic wills are also recognized as valid legal documents in California. A holographic will must be handwritten and signed. No witnesses or notarization is required.
Beneficiaries: Under California Wills Laws, a property can be distributed to individuals, corporations, unincorporated associations, societies, lodges, counties, cities, municipal corporations, states, countries, and other governmental entities, among others.
In the event you do not leave a will after your death, your property will be distributed according to California Probate Code requirements. Most likely, your property will be distributed to your closest relatives, such as your spouse and children. If the will is not found after the testator’s death, California Wills Laws presume that he/she destroyed the will with the aim to revoke it. A will can be revoked by a new will that clearly voids the previous one. Or it can be physically destroyed either by the testator or someone else in his/her presence.
In California, you can name an executor in your will. The executor’s role is to ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. If you don’t have a will, California Wills Laws will determine which person has the highest priority to become the executor for distributing your property.
The laws governing wills are not as easy as pie. If you decide to draft your will yourself, you bear the risk that the court may declare your will invalid. Thus, you will need to have certain legal guidance for making a valid will. The experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at the Margarian Law firm will ensure that your will complies with the requirements of California Wills Laws and observe your wishes to be carried out as you desired in your will.