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.
In a recent post, the importance of having a California living will was discussed as part of one's estate plan. The importance of doing so was brought to light recently by the tragic situation involving former NBA star Lamar Odom.
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.
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.
Same-sex couples and domestic partners in California may have something to worry about as they wait to hear how the Supreme Court's rulings may determine whether Proposition 8 will go into effect. In addition to this impending landmark decision, the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is under court scrutiny at the same time.
People in California may have heard an interesting and amusing story about a woman who discovered a treasure trove of $100 bills in the pockets of the clothing of an 85-year-old woman who had recently died. The woman found some $30,000 in currency in the clothing, which had been given to her by family members of the deceased.
California residents may have seen the recent headlines about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and the turmoil surrounding his substantial estate since his death in 2006. Brown died at the age of 73 and left behind an estate purportedly worth anywhere between $5 million and $100 million. Up until late last month, his estate was the subject of numerous legal challenges from family members and people claiming to be family, but a court ruling may have finally settled the issue for good.
California residents may be interested to know that the court battle over the final wishes of Hollywood personality and beloved actor Sherman Hemsley took a rather bizarre twist as a judge ordered a man claiming to be the actor's brother to undergo a DNA test. Hemsley succumbed to lung cancer in July of this year. Currently, his body remains at a funeral home as the dispute over his will continues.
Readers of the blog and California residents have probably seen the coverage of the fight between the girlfriend and estranged wife of deceased painter Thomas Kinkade. The two women are both claiming their supposed rights to their share of the famous artist's estate, and the winner may be decided by the court's decision on the validity of a handwritten will brought forth by Kinkade's live-in girlfriend.