How Do I Know if My California Will is Excellent?

How Do I Know if My California Will is Excellent?

An excellent California Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is one that is drafted by experienced California estate planning attorneys. A California Will can be deemed “excellent” if it contains language that is legally valid and sufficient and accomplishes the goals you have set out when you decided to make a Will.

A Will is a written document that does several things. First, a Will sets out your instructions to those you leave behind with respect to the distribution of property and assets. Also, your Will sets out instructions for naming guardians for minor children or trustees for Probate Trusts established by your Will (if any). Further, a Will identifies the person (or persons) that you want to carry out your post-death wishes. These persons are called Executors or Personal Representatives. Finally, a Will contains a set of instructions (or requests) for the California Probate Court. For example, your Will can specify that your Executor need not post a surety bond or other guarantee for undertaking the tasks identified in the Will. A Will is deemed “excellent” if all of these goals are accomplished.

As noted, an excellent California Will must also be validly executed. Otherwise, the California Probate Courts will not consider the Will to be valid and legally enforceable. As noted, a Will must be in writing. Proper execution of a written Will involves having at least two disinterested witnesses observe the person making the Will actually sign it and attest to the mental competence of the Will-maker. “Disinterested” means a person that does not obtain any bequests or inheritance under the Will.

An excellent California Will will also contain the necessary special language that is required. For example, language should be included that revokes all prior wills and codicils.

Further, an excellent Will uses precise and clear language with respect to all provisions, including specific bequests and residuary clauses. For specific bequests — which is a given asset that is bequeathed to a person or organization — the asset and the person receiving the bequest must be clearly described. An example of a vague bequest is: “I bequeath my car to Pat.” It is possible you have more than one “car,” and who is “Pat?” Keep in mind that it may be many, many years before a Will is actually filed with the California Probate Court, and you might buy a second “car.” Regarding “Pat,” he or she should be identified with a full name, address, and relationship to the Will-maker.

Residual clauses are a “catch-all” category for all of your assets and property not otherwise specifically distributed. The residuary clause generally states something like: “All of the remainder of my estate shall be given to … ” a specific person or organization.

Finally, an excellent California Will will handle the issue of persons named in the Will predeceasing the Will-maker. To continue our example with Pat and the car, what if Pat dies before you do? Do you want Pat’s children to receive the car or someone else?

As can be seen, an excellent California Will must be carefully drafted and can be quite complex depending on the number of assets and how the Will-maker wants those assets distributed.

Contact Our Experienced Irvine, CA, Estate Planning Attorneys

For more information, contact the Irvine, California, Estate Planning attorneys at Guardian Litigation Group. Our Mission is to provide unparalleled Estate Planning legal services for our clients. We can be reached via our contact page or by phone at (949) 444-5474. We are located in Irvine, California.