Everyone needs a will. Even if you don’t have a lot, you still have stuff even if it is just clothing or jewelry. I don’t mean this to be minimal, but homeless people probably have treasures that could be listed on a holographic will that they think is prized and would want it bestowed upon a friend. The whole point of a will is to state who you want to have your possessions at the end of your life.
What Can Or Should Be Addressed In A Will?
Everything or anything that you want to specifically go to someone. Especially if you have children, you want to name guardians on a will. You want to make sure that someone you trust is going to take care of your kids. There is a lot of things to think about, and many people don’t stop and think about it because they just go along with life. I think Kobe Bryant passing was a wakeup call to a lot of people. He was someone who seemed to have everything and was taken away so suddenly. That’s exactly how unpredictable life can be.
What Happens If Someone Does Pass Away And They Don’t Have A Will?
If someone passes away and they don’t have a will, if their estate is valued at more than $160,000, then it has to go to probate. Probate means that the estate has to go to court. The court will determine who is better to be an administrator. The court will determine who’s in the best position to administer your estate. Usually, it’s a family member, but sometimes people will fight about wanting to be an administrator. That’s why it’s much better to have something on paper. You want an executor to be the person responsible of giving away all of your stuff, and to make sure it goes where you want it. The court will also determine who gets the assets and property of your estate. Generally, your spouse will get 50%, and your children will get 50% percent no matter how many children you have.
Is There Anything That You Can’t Protect In A Will?
The will doesn’t protect anything. The will says who you want to receive your assets. The reason why a house has to go through probate is because you cannot pass it to anyone without probate unless you have a trust. A trust is a much better estate planning vehicle as far as what a will doesn’t protect. When you have beneficiary driven assets such as a bank account, retirement, and life insurance, that goes strictly straight to your beneficiary, and it doesn’t have to go to court. That is why some people can avoid a probate if they don’t have a house.
If someone doesn’t have a house but has cars, furniture, paintings, or things that they may want some people to have, but it’s not worth $160,000, they don’t have to go through probate. Also, if you have $300,000 in a bank, you can make it a beneficiary driven asset and you can avoid probate. However, you still need a will to cover all the other things that aren’t beneficiary driven.
Can A Will Include Incapacity Planning As Part Of An Estate Plan?
A will and a trust can name who you want as a conservator, but that person would still need to go to court to become the conservator. Just because your names a conservator or a guardian for your children, it doesn’t make them a guardian. You have to go to court to get the appropriate paperwork. For instance, in a case with children, if you pass away and name your sister to take care of your children, your sister has priority because those are your wishes and the court will follow your wishes. But your sister can’t take your will and register the kids in school because she is not an official guardian until she gets the piece of paper from court that’s called letters of guardianship.
How Often Should A Will Be Reviewed Or Updated?
I tell my clients that the only time you need to update a will or a trust is when something fundamental changes in your life, or if you don’t want the person named as an executor to be executor anymore. The same applies with a trust. In the trust, they are called successor trustees. If you don’t want that person, you need to change it. If you don’t want some of your beneficiaries to be beneficiaries anymore, you need to change that. But for the most part, that’s it. It’s your beneficiaries and who’s going to manage your estate. Those are the things you want changed. If there’s a change, that’s when you need to change a will or an amendment to a trust.
Is A Will Alone Enough To Protect Assets For My Beneficiaries?
A will alone is enough to tell the court what your wishes are, but if you have a house, you still have to go through probate. If your estate is still more than $160,000 you have to go to court. When you go to court with your will that is enough for your assets to be distributed, and it’s enough to say who you want as a guardian. The Guardian would then have to file another petition with the court to make it official. When a will goes to court for probate, it is a very expensive document. As a result, every will in California gets a lawyer, and the executor or administrator gets 4% of the first hundred thousand. They then get 3% of the next hundred thousand, 2% of the next hundred thousand up to a million, and 1% on a million dollars plus. Most people in California have an estate worth $400,000 to $500,000.
Even a $300,000 estate, can be expensive. The statutory fees on a $300,000 estate are $9,000 that goes out of the estate to the executor and another $9,000 that goes to the attorney, if one is hired. In other words, that is $18,000 that gets paid before any creditors and before any of your heirs. For every additional $100,000 in value that the estate has, another $2,000 is paid to the executor and the attorney or an additional $4000 total! However, at minimum, have a will to let the court and your heirs know what you want to happen with your assets.
After someone passes away, the will gets logged in the court. There’s a law in California that says your will must be filed in the jurisdiction where you die. There are companies that try and find heirs and they take a percentage of the inheritance from the heir. The only way they know about any beneficiaries is because these companies have a way to access the courts in all the counties in California and review the filed wills.
For more information on Need For A Will In Estate Planning, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (530) 317-5556 today.