People accrue wealth and property to live a healthy and content life. That same wealth is then passed on to their progenies or people of their choosing, after their death. If the progeny has an amicable relationship, then this transfer is peaceful, or else, it is often seen that the conflict ends up in court. To have an equal distribution of the property, the last will is drawn by the testator. This is to ascertain what exactly happens to the testator’s property after their death.

What Is a California Last Will and Testament?

Like the Arizona will, Colorado will, last will and testament California is a legal document governed by California’s statutes and law that is drawn by the testators to leave/distribute their wealth (monetary or real estate) to their children, spouse, friends, relatives, charities, and others.

California's last will and testament also make provisions for child (minor) care or even pet care. Every legal condition that ought to be fulfilled in drawing up a last will is mentioned under California Probate Code § 6100.

What's Included in a California Last Will and Testament?

There are a lot of small elements that are put together to form a functioning California will. They include:

Appointing an Executor

The executor plays one of the pivotal roles in the execution of the will. Appointed by the testator as part of the will, the executor is recognized by the probate court as well.

It is the job of the executor to take an inventory of all the assets held by the testator and secure them before disbursement. From handling creditors’ claims to representing the estate in a legal matter, and filing of tax returns, an executor has to do everything.

After the death of the testator, it is the fiduciary duty of the executor to act responsibly and diligently towards the estate and the descendants. Hence, it is important to choose an executor who is familiar with your circumstances.

Distribution of Estate Assets

Bequests or distribution of estate assets forms one of the main provisions in a will. There are, generally speaking, three types of bequests:

Percentage:

Here, the estate is divided as the percentage of the overall value.

Specific:

In this, as the name suggests, specific parts of the estate are left to specific people as named in the will.

Residuary:

Once all the specific estate is given away, the remaining or residual is then given to a single beneficiary.

At times, a separate “personal property memorandum” is created that sheds light on receivers of tangible personal property. The memorandum decides on items such as souvenirs, jewelry, books, furniture, and such.

Allocation of Minors’ Guardians

The will carries instructions for the care and upbringing of the testator’s children post their demise. This is extremely important in case the testator has young children. The will identifies a responsible adult, with close ties to the testator, who can supposedly take good care of the minors. The guardian has to be formally appointed by a court. The state of California recognizes two different kinds of guardians:

  • Guardian of the person – Responsible for taking care of a minor’s all-round well-being.
  • Guardian of the estate – Looks after the estate (finances) that is being left behind for the minor until they reach adulthood.
  • Disposing Remains – The executor is also assigned to look after the final rites of the testator. As mentioned in the will, the executor simply carries out the testator’s wishes for their funeral and disposition of remains.

Benefits and Limitations of a California Last Will and Testament

There are several benefits of having a last will template California, including:

  • Offers peace to the testators that their estate will be disposed of as per their wishes
  • The testators can choose a guardian to look after their young children along with the estate that is left behind for them
  • A will helps reduce the chances of the estate going to a court-supervised distribution process
  • Helps in avoiding uncertainty over issues other than estate and wealth

Along with this, there are a few limitations to what can be achieved through a will. These are:

  • Wills cannot be used to transfer jointly owned properties
  • Properties that have been given to trust, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and transfer accounts cannot be transferred via a will.

How to Form, Change, and Revote a Last Will in California?

To form or draft a California Last Will and Testament, the following requirements are to be met:

  • The testator must be 18 years of age or above
  • At the time of drafting, the testator must be of a sound body and mind so as to make reasonable decisions
  • The will must be undersigned either by the testator, a person chosen by the testator or court-appointed conservator
  • At the time of signing of the will, two witnesses must remain present
  • A will must always be in writing
  • As per the law in the state of California, the property can be distributed amongst individuals, societies, unincorporated associations, municipal corporations, corporations, lodges, cities, states, counties, countries, and other governmental entities, among others

The testator can review and change the will anytime deemed necessary. The California State Bar states that the will must be reviewed at timely intervals to adapt according to changing circumstances. To incorporate any change in the existing will, an amended will, known as a codicil, is drawn in a similar manner.

A California will form can be revoked as under:

  • Expressly revoking part or all of the existent will in a subsequent will
  • If the will is destroyed in any form (burning, canceling, etc.) by the testator or a person appointed by the testator in their presence

FAQs

What is the importance of having a will?

A will is required to:

  • Decide who receives your property after your demise
  • Decide on the division of the property amongst the recipients
  • Decide upon the executor who will look after your estate
  • Decide on a guardian for your minor children

What is a codicil?

A codicil is an amendment will that is drawn to make specific changes to your existing will. A codicil is to be formed following the exact same process as the will.

How is last will different from a healthcare directive?

A last will is a legal document that is created to administer the distribution of your property after your death. Whereas a Healthcare Directive is drawn to specify your healthcare preferences for times when you are no longer able to make informed decisions. The last will cannot give directions about medical treatment.

Is the last will necessary if there is a power of attorney in place?

Yes. A power of attorney appoints an agent to look after your estate and finances while you are temporarily incapacitated. It terminates with your death. To look after your assets post-death, you will need a last will.

CocoSign provides you with different templates that you can use to draw up the last will and testament in the state of California. Download today.

Disclaimer

CocoSign represents a wide collection of legal templates covering all types of leases, contracts and agreements for personal and commercial use. All legal templates available on CocoSign shall not be considered as attorney-client advice. Meanwhile, CocoSign shall not be responsible for the examination or evaluation of reviews, recommendations, services, etc. posted by parties other than CocoSign itself on its platform.