Riverside Will Lawyer
In many cases, a will is quite literally the stitch in time which saves nine. Basic wills are rather easy to prepare and customize. A basic will might suit your needs perfectly or might be the launching pad for a more comprehensive estate plan. Without such a document, the state makes important decisions about your estate and your children. Furthermore, intestate (without a will) matters dominate probate court litigation dockets.
The hard-working Riverside will lawyers at The Probate Guy understand what it takes to build an estate plan from the ground up. Since your will is the centerpiece of this plan, we take extra care when it comes to drafting and executing this document. As a result, you get the full benefit of a simple or complex estate plan.
Making a Will
Many people are tempted to use boilerplate wills they find on the internet because, in most cases, all wills look alike, at least at first blush. They all have the same principle components, such as:
- Preamble: This is the “I, John Smith, being of sound mind and body” language. These are more than just empty platitudes. Without the preamble and its assertions, the will’s legitimacy could be an issue.
- Revocation: A new will revokes all prior wills. Nevertheless, codicils which suddenly appear, especially after the testator’s death, cause a considerable amount of probate litigation. So, our Orange will lawyers usually recommend that people physically destroy all previous wills and codicils. That includes originals and copies, if possible.
- Bequests: There are several types of bequests. Much of will preparation goes into making these bequests. After specific bequests (I leave my house to David) and general bequests (I leave money to Frank), the residuary request (I leave the rest of my estate to my children per stirpes) covers everything else.
“Per stirpes” is a Legalese phrase which basically means both “in line” and “share and share alike.” All pure biological children get equal estate shares. Step-children, or any other step-relatives, get nothing, unless there is a specific or general bequest in their name.
Grounds for a Will Contest
These matters are the most common form of probate litigation. Mere disagreement with the will’s provisions doesn’t support a successful will contest. Most of the will contest matters our Riverside will lawyers handle focus on technical details, such as:
- Incapacity: Testators (people who make wills) must know the full extent of their bounty, which usually means all their heirs and assets. “Incapacity” is a rather vague term in California. People who are in comas are obviously incapacitated and people who forget to turn off the light probably aren’t incapacitated. There is a lot of grey area between these extremes.
- Undue Influence: Outside influence could invalidate a will if the pressure was so extreme the testator lost free will and was under another person’s influence. Typically, it’s rather easy for an Orange probate lawyer to prove one of these two prongs, but it’s very difficult to prove both of them.
- Fraud: Typically, if probate petitioners cannot prove incapacity or undue influence, they may be able to prove fraud. Typically, the fraudster lies about the nature of the document and convinces the testator to sign it. People who sign documents without reading them normally aren’t incapacitated, and lying or cajoling usually doesn’t constitute undue influence. But the two things together could constitute fraud.
These same basic principles apply in other probate litigation matters, such as challenges to a trust or another document.
Work With an Experienced Orange County Lawyer
You can take steps now to protect your heirs and assets later. For a free consultation with an experienced Riverside will lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Robert L. Cohen. We routinely handle matters throughout SoCal.