Last Wills

A Last Will and Testament is an important step in your estate planning to make sure your property is given to those who you want to receive your assets after your death.

Your will includes important details:

  • Appoints an Executor
  • Appoints a Conservator
  • Appoints a Guardian for your minor children
  • Names Beneficiaries
  • Includes Burial Services

 

What a Will Can Do?

 With a Last Will and Testament, you can appoint someone you trust to carry out your wishes to give your property to others as you direct after your death.  You can also appoint a conservator if one is necessary to care for you and you can name a guardian to care for your minor children.

 You can name a conservator for yourself.  If you have dementia and can no longer take care of your daily basic needs, a conservator may be necessary.  Naming someone you trust in advance of this happening may ensure the right person is appointed as your conservator.

 You can name a guardian for minor children.  Telling your best friends you want them to take care of your kids if something happens to you doesn’t mean they will automatically be able to carry out your wish.  Instead, naming them in a legal document, known as a Will will streamline the process when they petition the court to act as the legal guardians for your minor children.

 You can include your burial instructions.  Whether you want to be cremated or buried, a will is the proper legal document for you to state specifics.  Do you want to be scattered at sea or from the top of Mt. Whitney or scattered in a garden overlooking the sea?  Do you have a family burial plot or crypt?  You can also include the name of the cemetery.  How about your favorite tunes?  You can also say you want something small and private.  Not having the details in your will, may mean it will be left to your family to figure it out for you. 

A Will can assign property to the trust that was not included in the trust.  Having a trust means that property held in the trust will pass to your named beneficiaries. Property you receive after you make the trust won’t be transferred until you add it to the trust at a later date.  Having a pour-over will directs all property to be distributed to the beneficiaries you named in your trust.

 For example:  If you receive property just prior to your death and you don’t have time to add it to your trust, having a will is a good back-up plan to your living trust.  Because you cannot accurately predict what property you might receive just before death, it makes sense to also have a will, commonly known as a “pour over will.”

What a Will Cannot Do?

While a will is flexible during your lifetime, meaning you can make changes and provide instructions to give your assets to those you choose, you cannot name someone else to receive money on retirement or investment accounts if you have already named beneficiaries on those same accounts.

Also, you cannot require your beneficiaries to do certain things before they receive their inheritance.  For example, you can’t state that your son will get his share as soon as he gets a divorce.

A Will by itself does not avoid probate.  If the gross value of your estate is over a certain amount, and does not name beneficiaries or hold title to your trust, your assets may be subject to probate.  The 2021 limit for a formal probate proceeding is $166,250.  So, if your gross estate is worth more and you don’t have named beneficiaries, your estate is headed to probate.  Your will will be submitted to probate court for a judge to decide when your property may be given to your loved ones.  A formal court proceeding can take up to 18 months before your executor can carry out your wishes per your will or if you don’t have a will, give your property to your heirs.

This deed is for property vested in the name of a trust and the trustee passes away.

This deed is recorded after the death of an owner that is not vested in a trust.

This form protects equity in your primary residence and is typically recorded if you are in a lawsuit where a money judgment may be awarded against you.  See below for limits of equity protection.  Up to…
$75,000 equity protection if you are single
$100,000 equity protection if you are Head of Household
$175,000 equity protection if you are age 65, physically disabled or earn less than $15,000 annual income

The most common ways of abandoning a declared homestead are to record a Declaration of Abandonment. Another way would be by operation of law when the declared homestead owner records a new homestead declaration on a different property.  Consequently, if you prefer to clear title to avoid confusion, you may record a Declaration of Abandonment.

Between spouses, when one spouse releases ownership to the other spouse; typically done in divorce matters

To transfer your ownership interest to someone else; typically used for re-finance purposes to add a co-signer.

To transfer your ownership interest to another person after your death.

To transfer your interest to your trust to avoid probate. Most importantly, this will save your heirs thousands of dollars in probate court.<

In conclusion, if you need to add or remove someone from title or protect your property from probate, we can help.  We’ll prepare the necessary form and record it in the county records where your property is located.  We have recorded deeds throughout the state of California and nationwide.

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