What is a Will / How to Make a Will
Definition. A Will is a written document which states to whom a person’s belongings, money and property are to be given upon death. A valid will may either be typed or handwritten (holographic).
The person who makes the will is commonly referred to as the “Testator”. After he dies he is sometimes referred to as the “Decedent” in legal terminology.
Creation of Wills
A Will is created by a written document but it must be done in accordance with strict legal rules or else it is invalid. If the Will is invalid, then the Testator’s money and property get distributed according to the laws of California found in the Probate Code. If the Will is typewritten, (also known as a witnessed will) then the Testator must sign it and date it and his signature must be witnessed by at least two persons. The Testator must intend and declare to the witnesses that it is his will. Those two witnesses must sign as well. If the Will is handwritten (also known as a holographic Will), the entire Will must be entirely in the Testator’s own handwriting and signed and dated by him. For example, if a person typed his will and then signed and dated it without having it witnessed, then it would be invalid. There is also a third type of Will which is rarely used called a nuncupative will. That is a will by one who is in actual contemplation or fear of death by a soldier in the field, a sailor at sea, or by in injured person. The nuncupative will doesn’t have to be in writing but is only able to dispose of personal property valued at $1,000 or less.
Changes and Revocability
A Will is not permanent and can be changed or revoked at any time be-fore the Testator’s death, so long as the Testator is legally competent. Thus, one cannot assume that if some-thing or some person is mentioned in a will as an Heir that the situation will remain the same. Testators can and often do change their wills. The main issue involving elderly or sick people changing their wills is whether they are legally competent to do so and/or whether there has been undue influence. Again, a lawyer should be involved with making any will changes and/or establishing Wills for people who are ill or elderly so that the changes are legally effective.
Should you have an attorney prepare your Will?
I of course recommend that any Will be prepared by an attorney. It is far cheaper to have the Will prepared by an attorney so that all of the issues that typical-ly arise are covered and written in language that is readily understood by the Court system. Some of the largest legal fees are incurred in the Probate Court where there are disputes about Wills and inheritances arising from faulty or ambiguous Wills. The laws pertaining to Wills and Trusts have evolved over many centuries and as such the Will document needs to be properly written to carry out what the Testator truly wants to do.
CALL (949) 851-1771 to speak with Lawyer David L. Crockett
Testamentary Trust as part of Will
The law of Wills allows the Testator to establish a trust for some of all of his assets. This would be typically done to have some or all of the Decedent’s Estate held and man-aged for Heirs who are under age 18 and also to be able to have them held and managed for the years after age 18.
Conveniently located in Newport Beach near the John Wayne Airport
We are located near the Orange County California John Wayne Airport. My office is catty-corner from Fletcher-Jones Motorcars; —right behind the rear entrance of Newport Lexus on Dove Street. Here is a picture of my office building and a Google Map to get your bearings.