Fresno & Visalia Wills Lawyers
Helping Find an Option That's Right for You
When it comes to drafting your will, there are a few main options to choose from. For California residents, you need to be over 18 years of age to be eligible for drafting your own will. Additionally, a person needs to be of sound mind and body and sign the will with two chosen witnesses. Keep in mind verbal wills are not recognized in the state of California. At the Law Offices of Christopher Martens, our dedicated staff of wills attorneys in Visalia is here to help you draft out a will that best suits your needs.
If you need help developing your will, call us at (559) 377-7319 or contact us online today.
Different Types of Wills and Their Key Differences
Your personal circumstances will dictate which type of will is best for you.
Below are four of the main types of general wills and their differences:
- Simple / Statutory - Arguably the most common type of will, a simple will (also known as a statutory will) allows the primary person to decide who will receive their assets upon their passing. You will also have the option of naming a guardian for your children, should that apply. California Probate Code section 6240 details the terms required for this type of will.
- Testamentary Trust - This type of will allows for the allocation of some assets into a trust for the beneficiaries and enables you to appoint a trustee. This is a great option if you want to leave an inheritance to minors, which can be gradually given to them as they age or by other means.
- Joint - A joint will is signed by two or more people, where generally each spouse is set to inherit everything from the other. Terms of joint wills cannot be changed, not even after the death of a testator. This can make joint wills inflexible.
- Living - A living will allows a person to pre-determine what medical treatments they do or do not wish to have should they become incapacitated. This type of will also allows you to appoint someone to make these decisions on your behalf.
When you hire an attorney to help prepare your will, it is custom for the will to be typed out and signed in front of witnesses to comply with California state law. A holographic will refers to someone's handwritten will that has not been witnessed or notarized. Holographic wills are valid in California, but are not recommended as they can be problematic and should only be used in emergencies.
In California, it is required that the holographic will be dated to be valid. Holographic wills are most commonly used when a person feels their death is imminent and have not yet prepared a will otherwise. This leaves a person the option to write it out by hand. To be valid, a holographic will must be entirely in the testator's handwriting, indicating their intent to make a will, identify a beneficiary, and have their signature.
A pour-over is the last will and testament that acts as a legal safety net to hold any assets that are not going to be transferred or included in a pre-determined living trust. A pour-over will is a helpful addition as assets of the trust may not be transferred at the time of your passing to become a part of your estate. The pour-over will acts to pass assets to certain heirs who may not be beneficiaries. That way, your assets do not risk going to someone you did not intend. Pour-over wills deal with personal assets, not trust assets.
Call Our Firm Today
It's important to note that you may choose to have more than one type of will and that a combination of different wills is valid. Multiple types of wills can legally co-exist at the same time. Reach out to our team of experienced Visalia wills attorneys for assistance in choosing the right form of will for you. Taking the time to plan is invaluable for both you and your loved ones.
Schedule a free initial consultation by contacting us at (559) 377-7319.