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Case Introduction
Case No. FW-010
Will Drafting (CA only)
Brief Introduction

Although no one likes to think about death, there are good reasons to prepare for this inevitable event by setting up a plan to distribute one's estate after death. A person's estate consists of all his or her property and possessions, including bank accounts, real estate, furniture, automobiles, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, retirement funds, pensions, and death benefits. If a person plans well, his or her estate can be passed on after death quickly, easily, and subject to less tax.
A will is the most common document used to specify how an estate should be handled after death. Anyone designated to receive property under a will is called a beneficiary. A will can be simple or elaborate, depending upon the size of the estate and the wishes of the person who makes it--the testator. Many types of post-death instructions may be included in a will. A will may dictate who should receive specific items of furniture, artwork, or jewelry. A will may name a guardian who will take care of minor children should there be no surviving parent. A will even may be used to disinherit a child if the testator does not want the child to receive any part of the estate.

Things to Know

1. If you die without a will (known as dying "intestate") in California, your assets will be divided amongst your immediate family. If you're married, your spouse will inherit your share of the community property (almost everything you've accumulated as a couple since your marriage). If you have community property and separate property (such as property inherited from your family members that has been kept separate from community property assets), your spouse and any children or grandchildren would share your property. If you aren't married, your property would be divided between your children or grandchildren. If you have no spouse, children or grandchildren, your property would go to your parents, siblings, nieces, nephews or other close relatives.
2. Wills eventually become public after your death, with the details of what you owned and how much it was worth available to anyone curious enough to read the court file. So many people look for more private ways to transfer their assets. In California, alternatives to making a will include:
1) Life insurance policies or trusts
2) Gifting cash or other assets before your death
3) "Transfer On Death" ("TOD") or "Payable On Death" ("POD") bank accounts
4) Holding assets by joint tenancy with right of survivorship ("JTROS"), with the assets transferred automatically to the other joint tenant at the time of death
5) Holding assets through a tenancy in common, with each tenant having a divided interest in the property that can be independently sold
6) Retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts ("IRAs")
7) "Revocable living trusts" (sometimes called "grantor trusts"), giving all your assets to a trustee for management before your death
3. Disinheriting children. Generally, it's perfectly legal to disinherit a child. If, however, it appears that you didn't mean to disinherit a child -- the most common example is a child born after you made your will -- then the child has the right to claim part of your estate. For more information, see Inheritance Rights.
4. Very few wills are ever challenged in court. When they are, it's usually by a close relative who feels somehow cheated out of a share of the deceased person's property. To get an entire will invalidated, someone must go to court and prove that it suffers from a fatal flaw: the signature was forged; you weren't of sound mind when you made the will, or you were unduly influenced by someone.

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Attorney’s Service
1. Provide will questionnaire to clients
2. Ensure that the client’s will meets all legal requirements
3. Review client’s list of assets, liabilities, income, retirement plan etc
4. Draft will for clients
5. Help clients to notarize the will
Client’s Assistance
1. Discuss about the will with attorney
2. Provide necessary detailed information to attorney
3. Review the drafted will
4. Sign the drafted will
5. Keep the will in a safe place
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