People who create an estate plan in Northern California will almost invariably draft a last will and testament as a key part of their plan. When creating your will, you will be called upon to make some very important decisions that will affect your estate after you are gone. Though the form of your will is governed by specific California laws, you are free to make whatever choices you deem appropriate. Your estate planning lawyer will guide you on the process of creating a last will, but as you do so, you might want to consider the following tips.
Last Will Tip 1. Realize that your will is only one piece of your overall inheritance plan.
In years past, a last will and testament was the only way people could reliably leave inheritances. This popular notion of wills as the primary inheritance tools is widely reflected in popular films, television shows, and books.
However, the modern reality is that last wills only make up a single part of a broader inheritance plan. Your plan will almost certainly involve numerous different ways that you can use to pass inheritances on to others. For example, your plan might include a revocable living trust that gives you much broader options when making inheritance decisions. The larger your estate, the better the chances are that a trust-based plan will be better to a will.
Last Will Tip 2. Consider people outside of your immediate family when making a guardianship decision.
For parents of young children who decide to make a last will, one of the more important decisions you will have to make is choosing who will act as guardian of your child should you die before the child becomes an adult. The guardian will have the legal responsibility of caring for your child, and must be capable of meeting your child’s parenting needs.
While most people who select a guardian choose a close family member to serve in this role, you are not legally required to do so. You are free to choose anyone you like, and should consider people outside of your immediate family if you don’t have any close family members who you believe are capable of caring for your child.
Last Will Tip 3. Look to the practical realities that the future will impose.
Another important choice you’ll have to make when making a will is selecting an executor. The executor, also called the personal representative, will manage your estate after you die and ensure that your wishes are followed. When choosing an executor you will want to consider someone who is younger than yourself. When the time comes for the executor to step in and manage your estate, you want to be sure that the executor is still mentally capable of handling such a responsibility.
You do not have to make these decisions alone. Qualified and experienced estate planning attorneys are ready to help you create an estate plan that best suits your circumstances and goals.