Anyone of legal age may write a will, although many people do not take the necessary steps. By writing a valid will, the testator ensures a legal document reflecting his or her wishes exists. The will should allow assets to transfer to preferred beneficiaries, among other actions. Taking proper preparatory steps and utilizing effective planning could decrease the chances of any problems in California probate court.
Thinking through an estate plan
Efficiency and promptness count. Some may look at the steps required to put a proper will together as overwhelming, so they put things off. Unfortunately, the number of people without a will is significant, meaning their families must accept California’s intestate laws when a relative dies.
Taking the necessary time to gather and review all records could help the process. Writing a will without a careful accounting of all assets might lead to oversights, which may then result in problems or bad feelings during probate. Intestate administration could take longer and be more costly, two more problems survivors may wish to avoid.
Other steps and rules to consider
The estate planning process could involve steps designed to avoid probate legally. Setting up a trust is one way, but less complex steps could be available, such as designating a “transfer on death” beneficiary on a financial account. Estate administration and probate may become necessary with some assets, but TOD accounts or property with joint tenants with rights of survivorship would likely be exempt.
Those worried about how beneficiaries may manage or mismanage inherited assets might find trusts valuable. Besides helping beneficiaries avoid probate, a trust could give the person creating the estate plan more control over the estate’s management even after passing away. Sometimes, that strategy is the preferable plan.