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A brief look at the laws governing California wills

Creating a last will and testament is one of the most important steps in proper estate planning. The will plays a critical role in how a person's property and assets are distributed upon death. With a sound will, you have the opportunity to decide precisely how to divvy up your property so that your heirs and even your favorite charities get a fair share. To help you launch your own estate planning endeavors, this blog post will provide basic information about wills and the laws that govern them in California.

Many people wonder if they need a will, especially those with very modest estates. In truth, a last will and testament offers many benefits regardless of the size of your estate. It can give you peace of mind, it can circumvent disputes regarding your estate and it can allow you to stay in control of your assets. If you die without a will, the state of California will decide how your estate is distributed.

Any person who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind can make a valid will. Under California law, people who fit one or more of the following descriptions are not considered to be of sound mind:

-- Is not capable of understanding the nature of creating a will

-- Is not capable of remembering or understanding the nature of his or her property

-- Is not capable of remembering and understanding his or her familial relationships

-- Suffers from a mental disorder that might cause the individual to distribute property in a way he or she would not do under ordinary circumstances

This information is just a fraction of the laws surrounding wills and estates in California. While it will put you on the right path, you would probably benefit from seeking guidance through an estate planning attorney serving California residents.

Source: FindLaw, "California Wills Laws," accessed May 20, 2016

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