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Wills Archives

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.

Toyota magnate's family fights over parents' will


People in California who follow business news may have heard about an interesting legal battle that is brewing in Miami, Florida between five siblings and heirs to the massive estate of multimillionaire Gerald Bean. After Bean died in 2011, the majority of his assets were put into a trust, with his wife serving as trustee. The trust included specific instructions that upon her passing, the trust assets were to be distributed to four of the five Bean children.

What is a California statutory will?


Every year in California, thousands of people die without a will. This may be shocking to people who understand how important it is to have the proper estate planning documents in place. Without a will this person has no ability to direct how his or her financial assets will be disbursed amongst friends, heirs, significant others and family members.

Estate planning is best left to the professionals


People in California know that everyone needs a will. It's an important document that spells out what is to become of a person's assets after they die, and in many ways is a person's only means of communication with friends and family members after death. For that reason, a lot of time and effort can go into the will decision-making process, but unfortunately not enough people spend enough time making sure that the will itself is correctly written and legally valid. People who try to write a will on their own may end up making some serious mistakes which could in some cases nullify the will entirely, or lead to costly and avoidable legal challenges as to the validity of the will or its execution.

Inheritance court fight brings out the worst in family members


People in California may have seen a recent news article about a new variation on the old theme of family members behaving badly when it comes to fighting each other for a share of a wealthy benefactor's inheritance. The sad fact is that money, combined with grief at the loss of a loved one, can lead to some serious family in-fighting when the terms of the will are not crystal clear on how to distribute the deceased's assets.

Life changes call for will and testament changes


People in California know how important it is to have a will. Not only does a person's will provide him or her with the ability to express final earthy sentiments and provide comfort and closure to loved ones, it has powerful legal and financial implications that will impact the world long after the person is gone. But on the other hand, dying or becoming incapacitated without a will can be a legal and practical nightmare, as the disposition of a person's personal property and assets is essentially left to up to the court system, which will blindly and systematically dictate who receives what without any consideration for what the deceased would have wanted.

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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