Many people were shocked to hear the news that celebrity travel guru and chef Anthony Bourdain passed away recently. The man, who was open and honest about having to live paycheck-to-paycheck well into his 40s, became famous by exposing the secrets of the kitchen and cultures, thereby allowing many to expand their cultural literacy. While there are certainly lessons to be learned from Bourdain's passing and his legacy, one interesting aspect of his life is the way in which he drafted his estate plan.
Wills can be powerful estate planning tools that can ensure that an individual's estate in California is distributed in accordance with his or her wishes upon death. However, in order for a will to be valid, certain legal requirements must be met. While the vast majority of wills meet these requirements, there are some instances when a wills validity can be called into question. However, when a will's legality is at issue, only certain parties can formally challenge it.
Taking even the most basic steps can be huge when it comes to estate planning. After all, this often means that an individual in California is prepared to confront the reality of his or her mortality with an eye on the futures of those he or she loves. While estate planning should occur early in an individual's life, it should also occur often. The accumulation of assets, the addition and loss of family members, and personal preferences can change over the years. Any of these changes may justify modification of an estate plan.
Readers of this Sacramento estate planning blog can find a great deal of information about wills on this site. However, one unique will-related topic has not received much attention but deserves a discussion to introduce readers to its interesting legal significance. That topic is the joint will, and the remainder of this post will offer an explanation of what a joint will is and why it may not serve the interests of those who create them.
Being asked to serve as the administrator of a loved one's estate is both an honor and an obligation imposed upon a California resident. Although a well-crafted estate plan that takes into consideration methods of avoiding probate and removing ambiguity from the plans testamentary documents is not necessarily hard to manage, knowing how to provide adequate oversight of the estate's distribution can be nerve-wracking. This post will discuss one of the most important aspects of serving as an estate administrator: exercising a fiduciary duty toward the estate.
Most Californians imagine wills to be formal legal documents full of jargon and clauses that are typed on fancy paper and signed by serious witnesses. However, not all wills fall into this category. In California and other states throughout the nation, holographic wills are recognized as alternative testamentary documents to those that follow the formal requirements of will making.
A will should reflect the wishes of the California resident executing it, and should effectuate their desires in terms of the distribution of their assets upon their death. In fact, if a will is suspected to have been executed by someone who did not understand the contents of it or who did not have the capacity to recognize what their will would do, then the will may not stand as valid. A will may also be invalidated if the creator of the will is pressured into making it benefit someone due to undue influence.
A will is supposed to be a document through which a decedent communicates their desire for the disposition of their assets and property. In California a person must have the requisite mental capacity and be at least 18 years of age in order to create a valid will. However, even a properly executed will may face challenges by those who stand to inherit, or not inherit, under the terms of the testamentary document. This post will discuss several grounds on which a will may be challenged but will not provide a comprehensive discussion of this detailed topic.
The topic of inheritance, and in this case disinheritance, can be a very touchy subject for California families. It is generally believed that when a person dies their assets and property will pass to a spouse and if they do not have a spouse then their assets and wealth will pass to their kids. This is the usual pattern of events if a person dies intestate (without a will). If a person has a will, though, they can take an active role in who does and does not have rights to their post-death estate.
Individuals often recognize the importance of having an estate plan, even if they have not yet created one of their own. Drafting a will and executing trusts can be sobering for some Californians as they come to terms with the fact that their estate planning documents will generally only come into power once they, the creators of the documents, are dead. Often individuals create these and other testamentary devices all at once, so that their estate plans are complete. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to simply forget about the contents of their estate plans as time passes on.