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How failing to draft a will affects an estate in California


For many in California, it can be uncomfortable to consider the inevitable reality of death. But, it is something that will happen to everyone. With that in mind, there are certain issues that have to be accounted for regardless of the financial and personal situation of the individual. This is true with those who have significant property and money and those who are of more modest means. To that end, having a will can ensure that loved ones left behind will receive what the deceased, or decedent, wants them to receive. All properties will be allocated based on the terms of the will. Nonetheless, there are issues that will arise if the person dies without a will, and it is important to understand them.

No contest clause at issue in singer James Brown's will


Many California music fans remember singer James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," who died nine years ago. Unfortunately, litigation over his estate remains ongoing. Recently, four of Brown's six children reached a settlement agreement, which has been submitted to a court in South Carolina for approval. But two of Brown's son's oppose the settlement and claim that, by challenging their father's will, the other siblings have forfeited their rights to any inheritance.

How does divorce impact wills drafted during marriage?


No matter the age of a couple, it is not uncommon to draft a will and establish an estate plan at some point during a marriage. Major decisions are made in these legal documents, and they can be very beneficial at delivering the wishes of the spouses at incapacitation or death. However, wills are often drafted with the idea that their marriage would last until death - so what happens if the couple decides to divorce?

"E.T." screenwriter's will is missing after her death


An important aspect of estate planning is drafting a will. However, including a will does not always indicate that the legal document will serve the role it was intended to. This is especially true if a will is missing after the death of a loved one in California or elsewhere.

What are the basic requirements of a valid will in California?


Under California law, some basic requirements must be met for a will to be valid. Anyone age 18 or over can make a will, provided that the person is mentally competent to do so. The California Probate Code makes it clear that a person is mentally competent to make a will as long as they understand the nature of what they are doing, understand what property they own and the extent of that property and know who their living spouse, parents, descendants and other potential beneficiaries are.

Middle class continues to fall behind


Residents in California may have seen an interesting news article about the changing middle class in America, and how it appears to be largely influenced by certain demographics, most notably age. While the baby boomer generation enters retirement with some overall level of financial stability, it appears it is becoming harder and harder for younger generations, especially those with children, to get ahead in the middle class.

What property isn't covered in a will?


People in California know that a will is probably the single most important estate planning document that every person should have. That being said, there are certain kinds of property that a will simply cannot cover for various reasons. For that reason it's important to know the limitations of a will, and what other supplemental estate documents a person may need to work with their attorney to draw up or amend.

What to expect when writing a living will


People in California have a right to live their lives how they want and on their own terms, which is why the thought of being incapacitated and unable to make decisions is such a scary proposition for many people. A person who is incapacitated or not of sound mind due to disease or disability may not be able to communicate effectively, if at all, leaving himself or herself and their loved ones in a difficult position. This is where a living will can make a world of difference.

My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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