When California residents start estate planning, they usually start with creating a will. This is a document that protects your interests and the interests of your loved ones in the event of your death.
What is a will?
A will, often called a last will and testament, is an important document that outlines what happens to your property, assets, and responsibilities upon your death. If you are a parent, it will name guardians for your minor children as well.
A will may also include information about who will care for pets, charity donations, and funeral arrangements. Write any information about final wishes in a will.
Who needs a will?
Every adult should create a last will and testament. It is particularly important for older adults or those who are ill. It’s also particularly important for parents with minor children. However, realistically, every adult should have a will that they review and update at least every five years. This way, your will protects your assets and interests.
If you pass away without leaving a last will and testament, it will be up to the court to decide what happens next. Your will is the only way to make your wishes known.
Creating a will
You can create a will yourself or you can work with a professional, like a wealth advisor or financial planner.
There are online programs specifically designed to help with will writing. The people who choose this route often have simple finances and simple last wishes.
Your will may be part of a larger estate planning project. If you have minor children or complicated finances or assets it can be particularly useful to enlist help.
Sometimes, people choose a combination of these two approaches. They tackle some of the will writing on their own and then enlist a professional to help revise their will and cover all their bases.
The most important thing is to have a will at all. Make sure you write down what’s most important to you.