Estate Planning Myths Debunked

What are some misconceptions about estate planning in California?

For many Californians, estate planning remains shrouded in mystery.  If you have never studied the subject or explored the topic with an estate planning attorney, you might hold some common misconceptions about estate planning.  The following is a look at a few estate planning myths and some helpful information to set the record straight:

Myth #1: A Will must be notarized in California in order to be valid. 

Notarization is not required in California to validate your Will.  However, your Will must be signed in front of two witnesses, and these disinterested witnesses must also sign an attestation clause.  Disinterested means that they will not benefit under the Will.  An estate planning attorney can help you to draft a thorough and valid Will that protects your family’s future.

Myth #2:  If I make a Will, my estate will not go through probate.

Most of us know that probate is a potentially long and expensive process.  Many believe that by making a Will, their estate will avoid probate.  This is unfortunately not the case for estates exceeding $150,000.  In California, if your estate exceeds $150,000, it will generally be subject to probate even if you have a Will.  A Trust is an option you should explore to save considerable funds on taxes and other probate expenses.

Myth #3:  If I create a Trust, I do not need a Will.

It is important that you have both a Trust and a Will in place, as they both serve important functions.  A Trust will contain those assets that you transfer to it, which is often your home, investment properties, businesses, bank accounts, and other large assets.  You will likely have some funds remaining that are not in the Trust.  A Will is used to direct that these assets be transferred to the Trust, and can help you to avoid probate as long as the assets that pass under the Will do not exceed $150,000.  In addition, you can name small beneficiaries or a guardian for your minor children in your Will.

For assistance with your estate plan, contact the El Segundo, California estate planning law firm of Carico Johnson Toomey LLP.  Our firm offers the experienced legal assistance you need to rest assured your legacy is secured.  Call (310) 545-0010 to schedule your consultation.

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