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Consider the distribution of personal property in your will

Many California residents have prized personal possessions. These can include pieces from a hobby collection, such as antique china, coins or cars. Other items may have been handed down through family generations, such as a grandfather clock, a jewelry set or artwork. While some of these objects may have substantial monetary value, they likely also have a great deal of value for reasons personal to the owner.

Amy Winehouse died without will, parents inherit entire estate

California is known for its host of stars in film and music. During the last number of years, few musicians' stars burned as brightly or as briefly as Amy Winehouse's. The British singer, known for her soulful voice, won a number of Grammy Awards before dying last year at the age of 27. Some had speculated about the details of her estate. Those details have now been made public, revealing who will inherit her property and assets.

Living wills are also part of a complete California estate plan

Most people recognize the need for an estate plan, but as we have mentioned before, few people create one until the last minute, if at all. Perhaps you have thought about an estate plan and even executed a will, designating where and to whom your property will go after your death. Maybe the plan includes more sophisticated estate planning instruments, such as a trust. But does it include a living will?

Man intentionally wills property, money to government

Most people go through the estate planning process to ensure that when they die, as much of their estate as possible escapes the clutches of Uncle Sam. However, in a case that California readers may find interesting, one Florida man chose to do the exact opposite. That is, he intentionally left his historic house, along with $1 million, to the federal government through his will.The man, who died in December 2010 at the age of 87, had lived in his Coral Gables home for almost his entire life. The home was reportedly worth more than $1 million, and it sold for $1.175 million in a recent auction. A news report states the contents of the home will also be auctioned off by the government in January.

Family members continue parents foundation

There are times when having a will truly help parents and heirs alike. One such instance occurred in California after a husband and wife passed, leaving their estate to their son. It had been their wishes that the family home be sold and the proceeds be placed into the L&A Kessler Family Foundation as a means of supporting the foundation. In cases such as this where married couples want to provide for an entity that they support, having a will is essential.

Drafting a will without a knowledge of the law puts validity at risk

A recent California case highlights the problems that may result when a person decides to draft a will unassisted. A mother with two children and many friends decided she could do just fine writing her own will, documenting her wishes for distributing her assets and personal property on her death. So, she used her home computer to do just that. Once completed, she printed it out and decided a notary public would trump having mere witnesses acknowledge her signature on the will.

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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