Plan For Your Future Tomorrow


Wills Attorney in Oakland, California

Estate planning can sometimes seem overwhelming, but creating a well-structured will can provide immense value when it comes to the distribution of your assets and the well-being of your family after you pass. A will acts as the bedrock of a sound estate plan, ensuring your wishes are respected and your estate is divided according to your preferences. Without a will, the distribution of your assets falls to the state courts, which may not reflect your intentions.  

This is where the experience of an estate planning attorney becomes crucial. At the Law Offices of Gary R. Kershner, located in Oakland, California, I am experienced in crafting wills that safeguard your legacy and your family's future. With my in-depth knowledge of California estate law, I can make sure your will is not only legally valid but also customized to the unique circumstances of your estate and family dynamics. 

What Is a Will?

A will, also known as a "last will and testament," is a legal document that conveys your final decisions concerning your assets and dependents. Essentially, it details your specific desires regarding the distribution of your estate after your death.

It involves designating beneficiaries, selecting an executor to oversee the distribution of your assets, and making arrangements for the guardianship and care of minor children, if applicable. This document plays a pivotal role in ensuring your wishes are respected and executed properly. 

California recognizes several types of wills: 

  • Statutory Will: A simplified will in a "fill-in-the-blank" format that allows you to specify how your estate should be disbursed upon your death. This kind of will is particularly suitable if you have straightforward estate planning needs, such as a relatively small estate or no complicated bequest wishes. 

  • Attested Will: This common form of will must be in writing and signed by the testator. For the will to be valid, it must be signed in front of either a notary or two witnesses who are not involved in your estate and who understand that the document is intended to be a will. These witnesses must be legal adults and should not be your beneficiaries to avoid potential conflicts of interest. 

  • Holographic Will: A will that is wholly handwritten and signed by the testator. A holographic will does not require formal witnessing or notarization, but it must be entirely written in the testator's handwriting to be valid in court. 

Understanding these differences is vital for creating a will that accurately reflects your circumstances and ensures its enforceability. With my years of experience, I can help you select the type of will that best suits your needs. 

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How to Create a Will in California

To create a legally-binding will in California, several steps should be followed to ensure your document accurately reflects your wishes and complies with state laws: 

  1. Inventory Your Assets: List your significant assets, including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, and personal items you wish to pass on to your heirs or specific organizations. 

  1. Determine Your Beneficiaries: Decide who you want to inherit your assets. They could be family members, friends, or charities. The clearer you are, the simpler the probate process. 

  1. Choose an Executor: Appoint a reliable individual as an executor to manage the distribution of your estate according to the terms you set out in your will.  

  1. Designate Guardians for Minor Children: If applicable, select a guardian for the well-being and care of your minor children. Be sure to discuss your intentions with them ahead of time. 

  1. Draft the Will: Though holographic wills are allowed in California, consulting with an estate planning attorney to draft your will can make sure it meets all the legal criteria while accurately representing your intentions. 

  1. Sign the Will with Witnesses Present: California law requires your will to be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must also sign the will, validating its authenticity. Remember, holographic wills do not need to be witnessed but could be subject to additional testimony and considerations to determine their authenticity. 

  1. Store Your Will Securely: Keep your will in a safe location known to your executor or a trusted person who can access it when needed. 

  1. Review and Update as Necessary: Life changes may necessitate revising your will. Regular reviews help keep your document aligned with your current situation and wishes. 

By adhering to these guidelines, you can create a comprehensive will in California, securing your legacy and providing for your loved ones as you intend. Collaborating with a knowledgeable wills attorney can streamline this process, giving you confidence that your estate plans are in order. 

What Happens If You Don't Have a Will?

In California, dying without a will is known as dying "intestate." When this occurs, the state's intestacy laws dictate how your assets are divided, which might not reflect your intentions or desires. The court will appoint an administrator to oversee your estate, usually a close relative. However, this may not be the person you had intended, which could impact how your estate is managed and ultimately distributed. 

To prevent your assets from being distributed by a California court, I can help you draft the essential documents to make sure your estate is managed according to your wishes. 

How Can My Firm Help?

At the Law Offices of Gary R. Kershner in Oakland, California, I offer comprehensive estate planning services to help you create a will that is legally sound and reflective of your unique wishes and circumstances. Some of my services include:

  • Estate Planning Consultation: I offer tailored advice for building an estate plan based on the size of your estate and the value of your assets. 

  • Drafting and Reviewing Wills: I offer services to create new wills or adjust existing wills to make sure they comply with current legal standards and any changes in your circumstances. 

  • Guardianship Nominations: I offer personalized guidance for choosing and documenting guardians for any minors or dependents.

Wills Attorney Serving
Oakland, California

Creating a will is a fundamental process that dictates the distribution of your estate and provides instructions for your family after you've passed away. With my experience in California's estate law, I am skilled at drafting comprehensive wills that comply with California's legal standards. If you are looking to create a new will or update an existing one, contact me to schedule a free consultation. Located in Oakland, California, I proudly serve clients in the Bay Area, including Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Rockridge, Piedmont, Fruitvale, Fremont, San Jose, San Francisco, and beyond.