One of the most common services provided by estate planning attorneys in California is drafting the last will and testament. Does our firm handle wills? The answer is yes. But, the process of drafting a will is not all that is required. As California estate planning attorneys, the Schomer Law Group is prepared to manage, transfer, and distribute your real and personal property, pursuant to your last will and testament, upon your death. These services are always accomplished in the way that allows your estate to avoid as much tax liability as possible. Our firm will also handle the probate process, as well as any disputes regarding the will or estate that may arise.
Creating a Will
A last will and testament is the legal document that will make it clear to anyone who survives you, exactly how you want your property to be distributed upon your death. A will can always be withdrawn or modified during your lifetime. Typically, a will addresses the following:
- Property distribution
- Provisions for minor children, if applicable
- Identifying the executor, and an alternative, to administer the estate
- Desired funeral arrangements
- Property to be transferred into trusts
There are several important clauses that you should consider including in your will. So, discuss your options with your estate planning attorney, to make sure your specific needs are addressed.
The Survival Clause
A Survival Clause is used to explain what to do if a named beneficiary dies before you. Without these instructions, the property you intended to leave to that person will go to their heirs. That may not be a problem if that is what you intend. However, if you want to identify an alternative beneficiary, you need to include a survival clause.
The Tax Apportionment Clause
A Tax Apportionment Clause stipulates that any inheritance and estate taxes will be paid from the remainder of the estate, after all money and personal property have been distributed to your named beneficiaries. If this clause is not included, your beneficiaries will likely be required to pay a share of the taxes, based on the amount they received from your estate.
The Simultaneous Death Clause
A Simultaneous Death Clause is similar to the survival clause in that it deals with the possibility that you and one of your beneficiaries may die at the same time. If this happens, for instance in a car accident, the terms of the will would be treated as though the beneficiary died before you, unless you specify otherwise.
Simultaneous death of your spouse
If both you and your spouse die at the same time, you can declare in your will that your spouse is exempted from the simultaneous death clause. Another option is to declare that the spouse with the smaller estate be considered to have survived the other, which would go a long way toward reducing federal estate taxes.
Appointments you should make in your will
In your will, you can nominate someone you want to serve as the executor of your estate. Although the probate court will ultimately determine whether to appoint the person you nominate, at least you have some say in the decision. Usually, the person you nominate is appointed, unless there are objections. It is wise to include an alternate, in the event your first choice is unable to serve for some reason. If you have any minor children that may survive you, a conservator, as well as an alternate, should be nominated as well.
If you have questions regarding wills, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.