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Wills And Trusts Are The Foundation For Many Estate Plans

A clearly written will or trust document can be your future’s best friend. Both set clear expectations for the transfer of your assets, either during your life or after your death, and have legal power to ensure those expectations are observed and executed. Wills and trusts can give you peace of mind.

At Frisella Neilson, APC, in San Diego, our estate planning attorneys help clients throughout California to create thorough and legally sound wills, trusts and estate plans for the benefit of loved ones now and in the future.

Understanding Wills And Trusts And How They Differ From One Another

Wills and trusts are the two main instruments for controlling the transfer of your assets to your intended heirs and beneficiaries. They work in different ways, and they can be employed separately or in conjunction with one another.

A will is a legal document that works like an instruction list for your assets after your death. A well-crafted will can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes to the people and/or organizations you intend. Probate is normally required to address any assets that are not covered by the will, or to deal with legal matters regarding any defects in the will.

A trust, by comparison, can be established during your lifetime for the benefit of any person or organization you choose according to the terms you define. Trusts are versatile and can be used to dedicate funds for almost any purpose, whether for the education and care of a minor child or the nursing care of an elderly relative. Trusts also can confer tax protections and can be used to limit estate taxes.

How To Choose The Right Trust For You

Retain our law firm, and our wills and trusts attorneys can assist you in establishing a wide variety of revocable and irrevocable trusts, including:

  • Living trusts, created during your lifetime to give you control over your assets, to help your estate avoid probate and probate litigation, to reduce estate taxes or to resolve issues regarding the long-term management of your property.
  • Life insurance trusts, to direct where and how the proceeds of your life insurance policy will be distributed.
  • Charitable remainder trusts, from which you, your spouse or a relative may receive income over many years with the remainder of the assets donated to charitable organizations.
  • Children’s trusts, to pay for a child’s expected needs, including food, shelter and education.
  • Spendthrift trusts, which dedicate limited funds for a child often on a payment schedule, rather than in a lump sum upon the child reaching a certain age.
  • Special-needs trusts and supplemental needs trusts, to provide financial benefits to an individual with a disability, often without disqualifying him/her from Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
  • Other trusts, designed for your particular needs.

While trusts require an investment of time and money to establish and maintain, they are powerful legal instruments that give you significant control over the distribution of assets. Our estate planning attorneys are ready to provide knowledgeable guidance and advice as you seek the most appropriate trust for your needs and goals.

What is a holographic will?

A holographic will is created in the testator’s (the person writing the will) handwriting. Holographic wills are legally valid in about half of the states, and some regions do not require witnesses for handwritten wills.

However, specific requirements for holographic wills vary by region. Generally, some states require the entire will to be in the testator’s handwriting, while others allow for some typed portions as long as crucial provisions are handwritten.

Are holographic wills legal in California?

California recognizes holographic wills, but the signature and material provisions they contain must be written entirely in the testator’s hand. Holographic wills may be valid in the Golden State even if there were no witnesses to see you execute and sign the will.

While handwritten wills offer a simpler alternative to a typed will, they can be more easily challenged in court due to questions about authenticity or the testator’s mental state. A Frisella Neilson, APC, lawyer can help you minimize this and other potential risks if you are set on a holographic will.

Where should I store my will?

The secure storage of your will is as vital as its contents. It is about more than keeping it safe from theft, damage or loss. Proper storage helps to ensure your family or estate executor can access your will when needed.

A will that is secure but inaccessible is as good as lost, but one that is easily accessible yet not secure can be tampered with or destroyed. Achieving the right balance can help to ensure your final wishes are respected and carried out without unnecessary stress or legal complications.

Here are some storage options:

  • In a fireproof safe: Easily accessible and securely protected from damage and theft
  • With an attorney: Secure in professional custody and easily retrievable for authorized parties and executors
  • A safety deposit box: Secure, but executors must have access
  • With an online cloud service: Easily accessible, but without strong encryption, it may not be secure

No matter your chosen storage solution, informing your executor and family about its location is crucial. They will need access to your will and other vital documents upon your death to promote a smooth estate administration process.

Contact Our San Diego Wills And Trusts Attorneys

If properly crafted and/or funded, a will or trust created by our lawyers can help you prevent family disputes and avoid confusion as to where your assets should go. We can also assist you in assigning a willing executor for your will or a trustee who can manage your trust.

For more information, or to consult with an experienced San Diego attorney about our legal services, contact us online or call 866-334-2614.