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The importance of writing a will

It is very important for every adult who resides in California to have a legal will prepared because without one, the decedent's assets will be automatically distributed by a court according to the state's laws. In most cases, the assets will go to the decedent's nearest relations, such as a spouse or a child. This can be problematic for some families, and it may also incur unnecessary costs.

A will reveals the testator's exact wishes addressing a number of details regarding the distribution of his or her assets. The will allows the testator to select a fiduciary to handle all of his or her affairs. The fiduciary can be an individual, bank or trust company. Furthermore, if the testator has underage children, a guardian can be appointed in the will to care for them, and a trustee can be named to manage trust fund assets designated for the children's care. A testator who acts as a child or grandchild's custodian of assets, as outlined in the Uniform Gift (or Transfers) to Minors Act, may also appoint a successor custodian in the will.

A will allows the testator to distribute his or her assets to any beneficiary, whether it be an individual or charity. The testator may even disinherit any family member from the will; however, a spouse may not be entirely disinherited.

Without a will, the courts will be in charge of appointing a guardian to oversee the care of the testator's minor children, and family members may be faced with possible unnecessary probate costs associated with court appointments and processing work. A will, however, may reflect the trustee's wishes to the benefit of that person's heirs. In order to ensure that a will has been prepared according to California's laws, many people retain an estate planning lawyer to help them with the process.

Source: American Bar Association , "An Introduction to Wills", December 03, 2014

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