Orange County California Law in Creating a Will for Children

Having a last will and testament is essential for any adult. It helps determine what happens to your assets, property, and estate if something happens to you.

While it may seem less important when you’re younger and don’t own much, it becomes crucial the minute you bring another life into the world. You not only have to worry about your assets, but also what happens to your children.

Due to complicated estate laws in California, you’re sure to want to meet with an Orange County estate planning attorney to ensure you will get the job done.

Here are the top reasons for making sure you have a will in place once you bring a baby home:

1. Ensure guardianship of your children

When writing your will, you can decide who takes over for you in case the worst happens. You can spend time thinking about who would be the best fit for your child’s needs, who would raise them according to your beliefs and wishes, and who would be able to ensure your children grow up to be healthy and happy. You can even talk to potential guardians to get their input and make sure they’re OK with the responsibility.

If you do not have a will or do not name guardians, you are leaving it up to a California probate court to decide who watches your children after you’re gone. The court will do its best to select an appropriate guardian, but will focus on finding someone who meets physical needs and is, hopefully, already close to the family.

If there are different opinions from your family as to who should take over, it can cause significant drama that may never be repaired. Sadly, since you are no longer around, no one can ask for your input, and the decision is entirely out of your hands.

Read More: What Should I Look For in an Estate Planning Lawyer?

2. Take care of your children’s finances

Just as you’ll want to name someone to look after your children, you’ll also get to appoint someone to manage their finances until they are old enough to do so themselves. You can name the same person to handle both, but may also decide someone else should play a role. This person will look after any property that isn’t already dealt with in other places. If you work with a wills and trust attorney in Orange County and set up a trust, the financial guardian won’t need to manage said trust.

3. Name an executor of your estate

Your family will already be saddened by your passing and won’t want to deal with a fight over who should manage your estate. When you create a will, you will be naming the person who serves as your executor beforehand. This person will manage any court processes and make several tough decisions.

Naming your executor is important because if you don’t choose one, the court will appoint someone to do this for you. The court has to make its best guess as to who will do an adequate job. They may end up picking the worst person for the job. And even if the court picks someone you trust, you won’t have a chance to talk to that person beforehand and ensure that they are aware of your expectations.

While making your will, you can also create a healthcare power of attorney. This is the person who can make decisions regarding your care. If your children are still minors, they can’t and should make these decisions. Setting up this power of attorney allows loved ones to speak on your behalf at a time when you no longer can.

Read More: Why Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Write My Estate Plan?

4. Decide who receives your assets

In many cases, you may decide that your children should split everything equally. Your trust attorney in Orange County can even help set up trusts to maximize your estate when it’s passed on.

If, however, if you have other ideas in mind, you need to make sure to write it out in your will. For example, if you have one child that needs a little more help in life, you might want to leave him or her something a little extra, or you might have unique items that are more appropriate for each member of your family.

In some cases, your property is not easy to divide among multiple people. A car, family pet, or furniture are good examples. When there are major disputes, the court might decide to simply dissolve these assets by selling them and splitting the proceeds. This could be disastrous if you have antiques or processions that would best remain in the family.

Secure your Children’s Future

While it may be difficult to imagine leaving your children behind while they are still young, it is something for which you must be prepared. Regardless of whether you have a large estate, a child with special needs, or simply don’t want anyone to be caught off guard, you must make the appropriate decisions beforehand. Take the time to chat with your family and get everything into writing so that it’s not up to the state probate to decide.

While it might be tempting to try and write a complicated will on your own, make sure to speak to an estate attorney. Because California’s laws are complicated, a mistake could result in an invalid will that negates your final wishes. Once your children are involved, you don’t want to take the risk of creating a DIY will. The good news is that it’s very easy to set up a consultation with a will and trust attorney in Orange County to help you get started.

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