Do I Need a Will? 

Law Office of Geoffrey Fong July 8, 2024

Man preparing last willMany people put off making a will, thinking there's plenty of time. In reality, it's never too soon to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.  

The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong will help you understand why a will is necessary and how a competent estate planning attorney can help you plan for the future. 

Why Is It Important to Make a Will? 

A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets should be distributed after your death. Without a valid will, the division of your property will be determined by state laws, which may not align with your wishes. Not having a will in place can make the process time-consuming and stressful for your loved ones.  

Here are some of the benefits of establishing a valid will: 

  • It allows you to appoint a trusted individual to act as the executor of your estate and carry out your instructions.  

  • You can nominate guardians for your minor children 

  • It minimizes or avoids potential conflicts among family members by clearly defining your intentions.  

  • It can reduce the tax burden on your estate through legal strategies to optimize tax efficiency.  

  • It can hasten the probate process by resolving your estate matters smoothly and quickly.  

  • You can make specific bequests to individuals or organizations that matter to you. 

  • It allows you to establish trust funds or other financial arrangements to support loved ones after your passing. 

  • It can specify your funeral arrangements and final wishes, making it easier for your loved ones. 

How to Create a Will

Creating a will involves several steps: 

  1. List your assets and debts: This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, and debts. 

  1. Determine your beneficiaries: This could include family members, friends, or charitable organizations who will inherit your assets. 

  1. Choose a guardian for minor children: If you have minor children, appoint a guardian who will be responsible for their care. 

  1. Appoint an executor: This should be a reliable person who can manage your estate and execute your will. 

  1. Consult with an attorney: While you can write your own will, an attorney ensures that it complies with state laws and includes all necessary details. 

  1. Sign your will: Generally, you need to sign your will in front of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries and have them sign it. 

  1. Store your will safely: Keep the original copy of your will in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or with your attorney and inform your executor where it is stored. 

  1. Review and update your will: Life changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary may necessitate updates to your will. Regular reviews ensure it remains current with your wishes. 

Common Myths About Wills

Myth 1: Only wealthy people need a will.   

Reality: Regardless of your financial status, a will is essential for ensuring your wishes are honored. 

Myth 2: If I’m young, I don’t need a will.   

Reality: Unexpected events can happen at any age. A will protects your loved ones and ensures your desires are met. 

Myth 3: Creating a will is too complicated and expensive.   

Reality: Hiring a qualified attorney can be straightforward and affordable. 

Myth 4: Once I create a will, I never have to think about it again.   

Reality: Your will should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect any major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. 

Myth 5: My family knows my wishes, so I don’t need a will.   

Reality: Verbal agreements and assumptions are not legally binding. A written will legally documents and enforces your wishes. 

Estate Planning Laws in California

California requires a will to be in writing, signed by the person making the will (the testator), and witnessed by at least two individuals.  

In California, intestate succession laws apply if someone dies without a will, dictating how their estate will be divided among their heirs.  

The state also allows for living trusts, which can help bypass the probate process and provide more privacy and control over asset distribution.  

California has specific statutes for durable powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives, allowing individuals to designate someone to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. 

Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney in Rocklin, California

Born and raised in California, family has always been important to Attorney Geoffrey Fong. This and the desire to give back to the community led to the founding of the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong. His deep-rooted connection to the community ensures that you receive personalized and compassionate legal services. 

Whether you’re just starting to think about estate planning or need to update an existing will, the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong is here to help. Located in Rocklin, California, the firm serves clients throughout Roseville, Folsom, and Citrus Heights.

Call today and take the first step in securing your family’s future.