A California Last Will and Testament is a Legal document by which the people of California may distribute their estate (personal belongings, real estate, bank accounts, money etc.) among their loved ones as per their wish. This document will be effective only after the death of the testator (the person who created the Will).
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Download a sample Will now.
Once you have downloaded this DIY Last Will and Testament template for California;
This template will help you to create a Will with a simple estate plan. If you have a high net worth or any other complex issues in your personal or financial life; you should discuss it with one of our attorneys to avoid your Will from being rejected by the probate court at a later stage.
In addition to this, below, you can find all the relevant information about the legal requirements for making a valid last Will in California along with the frequently asked questions.
In California, any person who is 18 or more years of age and is of sound mind may make a Will.
Sound mind- A person is said to be of sound mind if he is capable of knowing the nature of the act he is involved in and is able to distinguish between right and wrong. In simple words, you must be aware that you own some property for which you are creating a Will, and to whom you are making the beneficiaries.
Every Will in California must be signed by the Testator and at least 2 witnesses which may be interested.
Note - There are various exceptions and special rules but these are the standard requirements for California wills.
Estate Tax - In the US, your estate is usually subjected to estate tax at state level as well as federal level. Like most of the states, California does not collect any estate taxes.
Inheritance Tax - Inheritance tax is paid when a person inherits a property or asset from an estate. California does not collect any Inheritance tax, neither does the US federal government.
STEP 1 : List your Assets.
Firstly, make a list of everything you own, from tangible to Intangible assets. This may include your personal property, real estate, bank accounts, jewelleries, life insurance policies.
This will help you understand which asset will be transferred through your Will or other modes.
STEP 2 : Choose Beneficiaries.
A Beneficiary is a person or an entity( trust or organization) in whose name you bequest your assets in the Will. Your family, friends, relatives or any other person whom you want can be a beneficiary under your Will.
You also have the right to disinherit any relative, child or spouse from your Will whenever you want. It is advised to take legal help for this purpose.
STEP 3 : Choose an Executive/Personal representative.
Always choose a person who is trustworthy, credible and responsible as your personal representative as he/she has a lot of authority over your assets after your death.
These include :
STEP 4 : Choose a Guardian for your minor children.
You can name a person who will look after the minor children after the death of the testator. This includes food, shelter, education and medical care. Guardianship of a minor terminates when the minor attains the age of 18 years.
STEP 5 : Signature of Testator and Witnesses.
After writing everything in your Will, you need to sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses. These witnesses are also required to sign on your Will to make it a Valid one.
STEP 6 : Store your Will in a safe place.
Once you are done with all the above formalities of making a Will, you need to store it in a safe place to avoid being lost or stolen. It is advised to give the copies of your Will to all the beneficiaries and executors so that they are aware of the fact that you have created a Will. It would be difficult to find your Will if you die suddenly without informing anyone about it. It is also possible that they will never know that you had a Will also. So, it's very important to communicate it with your heirs/beneficiaries.
STEP 7 : Review your Will periodically
Making a Will is not enough if you have not updated it after any major event that has happened in your Life. Events like marriage, divorce, births and deaths are likely to affect the decisions made previously in the Wills so it is important to update it accordingly to avoid any future stress to you and your family members.
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