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The importance of leaving behind a written will

While dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, California residents know that the process can be a bit easier when the deceased family member leaves behind a will. According to a recent report, many individuals today do not have a written will prepared in the event of their death. In fact, the report noted, only about 30 percent of individuals below the age of 34 actually have a written will.

Without a valid will in place, the decedent's property will be distributed in accordance with state laws of intestacy, and the court will appoint an administrator who will manage the decedent's assets. Besides being a lengthy process, there are fees that must be paid to the court and to the lawyers. These fees are deducted from the estate property.

The will serves to let the heirs know the full wishes of the decedent. In a well-prepared will, an executor is appointed to handle the person's estate and, if appropriate, a guardian is named to care for any dependent children. Lists of digital assets and passwords and various account information can also be included in the will that can greatly assist family members as they work to settle the estate.

California residents who wish to protect their assets and have them distributed after death in accordance with their wishes might consider retaining the services of an estate planning attorney for legal guidance. The attorney can also help in the preparation of powers of attorney that would allow a named individual to make financial and health care decisions in the event the client becomes incapacitated and unable to make such determinations.

Source: TIME, "How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive", Lazetta Rainey Braxton, August 18, 2014

Source: TIME, "How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive", Lazetta Rainey Braxton, August 18, 2014

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