You need a will. You know it. We know it. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t want to think about it—especially if you’re unfamiliar with estate planning.

That’s why we’re here: to help you get your estate plan set up so you can rest easy knowing your family is taken care of after your passing.

With a will, we can help you:

  • Control asset distribution
  • Designate a guardian for minor children
  • Select an executor of your estate
  • Provide for individuals who wouldn’t benefit otherwise—step-children, friends, etc.

Don’t keep putting it off. Contact a Santa Barbara will lawyer at Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law today.

What’s Included In a Will?

Your will is a written document that provides for the transfer of your assets upon your passing. Since your will is filed with the court upon your passing, it becomes publicly available.

Typically, wills include several foundational items and processes:

  • Is witnessed by two people
  • Appoints someone as executor
  • Lists your heirs
  • Apportions the assets among the heirs

If you wish to disinherit a relative—child or spouse—who would receive a portion of your estate according to California estate planning law, you could do so in your will.

Since there is no set length that a will must be to be legal, you can include as many specifications and items as are important to the distribution of your estate.

In fact, you might be interested to discover that wills can be as short as one page or run up to 30 pages or longer.

The Benefits of Having a Will in Your Estate Plan

A will is the most basic estate planning document, but it’s also an important one. A will allows you to decide who gets what, when, and how, preventing disputes among relatives over money or other items.

It also provides direction for those left behind. Having a will in place can make it easier on your loved ones if something happens unexpectedly—like an accident or sudden illness that renders you unable to manage your affairs.

If no one knows what they should do with your assets, the probate courts get to decide, meaning your hard-earned money could end up with extended family members or, worse, in the state’s possession.

Keep what’s yours intact by enlisting the legal services of our Santa Barbara County estate planning practice.

Protecting Your Will at All Costs

Unfortunately, your will can be attacked by any interested party.

This attack is referred to as a will contest. The most common attacks on will focus on whether the deceased knew what they were doing (sound mind) and whether they were under improper pressure from a third party (undue influence).

The good news is that, despite what books and movies might lead you to think, it is extremely difficult to overturn a will, as the party contesting the will has the burden of proof.

Need a Will for Your Estate? Reach out to Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law.

A will is a great starting point for your estate. It covers all the basics for asset distribution, guardianship, and burial arrangements. Like any legal document, it must be drafted correctly and legally to carry out your wishes.

Since wills don’t provide asset protection, avoid probate or meet any other goals that might be essential to your estate, you should work with an estate planning attorney to discuss what other tools may be available.

Reach out to our law firm today for a comprehensive estate planning session.

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FAQ: Santa Barbara Wills
Let’s Face It — You Have Questions.

What are the different types of wills?

In general, there are four types of wills: 

  1. Simple will (the most straightforward) — typically the type you think of when you think of a will 
  2. Testamentary trust will — places assets in a trust at your death
  3. Joint will — one will for two people 
  4. Living will — allows you to choose which medical treatments you’d want if you become incapacitated (doesn’t deal with asset distribution) 

Can I write my own will in California?

Yes. Written wills—or holographic wills—are accepted in California. However, creating your own will may not be the best option. If you don’t understand California estate planning law, you could make mistakes in your will that could be costly for your family members. 

When drafting any legal estate planning documents, you should consult estate planning attorneys.

What can invalidate a will in California?

There are many minor mistakes you could make in a will that could threaten your estate. 

Those could include: 

  • Failing to keep your will updated
  • You didn’t follow California probate law
  • Your directions were unclear
  • You left out some assets

To avoid potential issues down the road, you should consult our Santa Barbara estate planning lawyer.

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