Chula Vista Wills Attorneys
Helping Clients Build the Foundation of Their Estate Plan
An estate plan allows individuals to protect their assets and create an actionable plan for their loved ones once they pass away. A last will and testament, or a will, forms the bedrock for many estate plans. The document typically allows you to identify who will receive your property, who will take care of your minor children, and who will serve as the executor of your estate.
Our Chula Vista wills lawyers at The Sexton Law Firm can help you develop your estate plan from the ground up, including the drafting, reviewing, and validating of your will. Whether you are updating existing documents or starting anew, our team has a complete familiarity with estate planning tools and can leverage our knowledge to help you ably safeguard your assets and future. We can review your estate planning goals and explore what solutions can be used to accomplish them.
Why You Should Have a Will
When someone passes away without having a will in place, their estates become “intestate.” This means that the deceased’s assets are distributed in accordance with California’s intestacy laws, where property is divided proportionally among immediate relatives. None of your wishes or intentions will be honored, and your surviving loved ones will have no legal recourse to alter the proceedings.
Having a valid will avoids intestacy and allows you to take control of what happens to your estate. The last will and testament can be a flexible tool that can perform multiple functions.
A last will and testament allows you to:
- Designate beneficiaries for your property. You can leave assets to any individual or organization you choose.
- Appoint a guardian for any minor children. If you have minor children, a will gives you the opportunity to decide who should take care of them should you pass away.
- Choose an executor. An executor, also called a personal representative, is the individual who will be responsible for ensuring the terms of your will are followed and that your estate is properly settled.
Despite the will’s wide scope of abilities, it should often only form the ground floor of a larger estate plan. Contents of a will are a matter of public record and are often subject to litigious matters of probate. However, wills are often used effectively in concert with other estate planning tools, including trusts.
Why You Need a Lawyer to Help with Your Will
While it can be unpleasant to think about, challenges to the authenticity of a will can be common. These objections are usually raised by loved ones who are dissatisfied by the terms of the will and wish to secure more of the deceased’s estate. Building an estate plan beyond merely a will can help protect against some of these challenges, but you will also need to ensure your last will and testament is properly drafted and validated.
Simply writing your intentions on a piece of paper does not necessarily make the document a will that will be recognized in a court of law. To adequately protect your interests, your last will and testament must be properly formalized to help cement its legitimacy.
A will must be in writing, as does California does not recognize verbal, “oral” wills. Holographic, or handwritten wills, can sometimes be accepted in the state in extenuating circumstances, but they also are the source of many challenges and objections.
The contents of your will must meet all of the requirements of California’s Probate Code, which our Chula Vista wills attorneys can help you navigate and understand. The completed document must be signed by you as well as two additional “competent” adults. To avoid complications, the “witnesses” who sign should not have any personal stake in the will’s contents. These witnesses could be called upon to verify that you were of sound mind when you completed your will. While notarization is not mandatory in California, we often encourage the practice, as it helps ensure the legitimacy of the will.
Why You Must Frequently Update Your Will
Your work is not done when you formalize a will. The last will and testament is often only the first building block in a larger estate plan, especially if you wish to avoid tax liability and take additional steps to avoid probate conflict.
You will also need to continue to update your will as your life evolves. Minor changes can be instituted through codicils, but it is often more efficient and safer to revoke a previous will and formalize a new one.
We can help identify life events that may warrant immediate reviews and updates to your will and other elements of your estate plan. For example, a divorce will generate significant implications that should be promptly addressed. In California, a divorce automatically invalidates any provision in your will that mentions your ex-spouse.
We Can Help You Build an Effective Plan
Our Chula Vista wills lawyers at The Sexton Law Firm are committed to helping clients and their families prepare for their futures. Effective estate planning can give you the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of once you are gone, and developing a robust last will and testament is often the first step to building those protections. In our first meeting, we can listen to your goals and concerns and work with you to create an estate plan that will give your loved ones the plan that they deserve. Our team can work to ensure that your will is properly drafted, compliant with all local regulations, and correctly formalized. We can also advise on how your will can integrate with other estate planning tools.
We Listen to Your Story and Create a Strategy to Achieve Your Goals
With offices in Chula Vista, Oceanside, and La Mesa, we serve clients throughout all of Southern California
We Offer Free Consultations - Regardless of the Legal Matter
We Offer Phone and Video Consultations For Your Safety and Convenience
We Are Bilingual and Serve Our Clients in English and Spanish
We Are a Family Owned and Operated Law Firm