If you don’t create a will before you pass away, California then handles your estate's distribution based on the “intestacy” law. In simple terms, this means that the state will give your property to your closest living relatives. If you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will inherit your property. When the state is tasked with handling a person’s estate, the outcome will oftentimes contradict what the deceased person would have actually wanted. For this reason, create a will ahead of time and periodically review its terms- it’s crucial to ensuring your wishes are honored.
A properly-drafted, legally-sound will give you the ability to:
It is important to note, however, that your will does not cover everything. Life insurance, retirement plans, assets held in living trusts, and jointly-owned property cannot be affected by a person’s will. Your will must be signed by you as well as at least two other witnesses for it to be finalized in the state of California. Unlike other states, notarization is not required for a will to be legally binding. Should you decide to change the terms of your will or desire to revoke it entirely before you pass away, this can be accomplished by creating a “codicil” with the assistance of an attorney. A codicil is a document that allows you to amend or change the terms of your will and is drafted similarly.
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