While most Californians have a vague understanding of the importance of a will, it is still one of the issues about which people procrastinate the most. It is not easy to envision one's own death, but when there are loved ones whose future is likely to be at stake if the will is ignored, it becomes vital to take the necessary steps as soon as possible. This is true regardless of the person's age and financial circumstances. The will is an act of love to those left behind.
The terms of the will are a key factor in how assets and property will be distributed at the time of death. For people who are parents and have children under the age of 18, the will can name a guardian to care for the child. There are certain matters that are integral to any will. The following must be considered: minor children and a guardian; a living will to deal with health care in the event the person is not able to make decisions on his or her own; and a durable power of attorney to name a representative to oversee the person's financial affairs if he or she cannot do so.
Some people need to be aware of other alternatives such as a trust. This holds true for everyone whether they are single, married or in another situation. Those who have an estate that they do not consider substantial enough would be surprised at the value a trust can have. If there is a home that is considered modest, there still might be relatively large equity in it.
Probate is the bane of the existence of many people and it can possibly be avoided with the skillful language of a will. If it is simple, clear and free of confusion, a will contest is unlikely to be necessary or possible. Whether it is to protect a spouse or make certain the other loved ones are properly cared for, it is essential to draft a will and to understand all the other estate planning documents to consider. A lawyer can provide information and advice on all these matters.