Experienced CA Trust and Estates Attorney Drafts Your Last Will and Testament
Orange estate planning lawyer helps you prepare your family for the future
A will is essential at every stage of your life, providing you with the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes for what will happen upon your death. A will is necessary if you intend to leave property to someone who is not your blood relative, e.g., a domestic partner, a friend or a charity. If you die without a will, the court determines how your property is distributed, who cares for your children and even what happens to your beloved pet — and the decisions the court makes might not reflect your desires. James E. Dougherty Ltd. can draft a valid will that accurately conveys your intentions so your final wishes will be honored.
What constitutes a valid will?
Wills are not difficult to execute, but simple mistakes can render them invalid in whole or in part. Essential elements of a valid will include:
- — The testator must intend that the document created be a last will and testament at the time it is created. Therefore, the testator must have capacity, meaning sound mind and comprehension, and the testator must create the will voluntarily, without coercion, compulsion or undue influence.
- — A traditional will is written, signed by the testator and either affirmed by a disinterested witness or a self-proving affidavit. A disinterested witness is one who does not stand to gain by the execution of the will. An example of a self-proving affidavit is a holographic will, which is written with the testator’s own hand, and proven by handwriting analysis. Modern technology also allows for holographic wills made with video recording devices.
- — A statement within a will which is confusing or open to various interpretations can invalidate all or part of the will.
An error in the execution of your will can cause confusion in the court and rancor among your heirs. To make sure that your wishes can be carried out, let James E. Dougherty Ltd. draft a valid will.
Reviewing and changing your will
As your life unfolds, your circumstances change and your concerns may shift. To remain current, you should review and update your will every three to five years. I review your will in light of your current finances, marital status and family situation. I draft valid codicils that address changes in your circumstances and outlook.
Appointing a guardian for your minor children
Your will allows you to make contingency plans for the care of your minor children. This is especially crucial if you are a single parent, but married couples must also consider the remote possibility of death in a common accident. If you have not named a guardian for your children, the court appoints one, who may make decisions contrary to your wishes. In your will, you can also make arrangements for the care of your pets, naming a guardian to take responsibility for them.
Creating an optimal estate plan
Drafting an effective will is more involved than drafting a valid will. James E. Dougherty Ltd. works closely with you to identify your legacy goals and advise you on the best means to achieve them. Sometimes, this means conveying assets via a will. At other times, disposing of assets via a will triggers estate taxes, sharply diminishing the value of the bequest. Often, when discussing financial and real estate assets, I uncover liability exposure that raises doubts about whether those assets could survive even a short run of bad luck. It is then that I discuss the need for a comprehensive estate plan, including a variety of trusts, that can protect your wealth for enjoyment during retirement, then transfer it seamlessly to your heirs without estate tax issues.
Contact a thorough estate planning lawyer for your will
James E. Dougherty Ltd. drafts effective wills and comprehensive estate plans for clients in Orange and throughout Orange County, CA. Isn’t it time you executed a will or reviewed an existing will? Call me at 657-221-5964 or contact my office online to schedule a consultation at our Orange office.