Everyone knows how important wills are, even if they don’t have one yet – these legal documents that establish a person’s final wishes and ensure that the right people inherit their possessions when they pass away. Because there is so much at stake in a will, and because it can be a complicated legal document depending on what your estate and family dynamics are like, it’s always in your best interests to work with a California lawyer who specializes in wills when you have an issue regarding wills.
What is that type of lawyer called, and how should you look for them? Not all lawyers have experience in this particular area of law. In the same way that you wouldn’t want a lawyer who specializes in car accident cases handling your divorce, you don’t want a lawyer who focuses on any other practice area giving you legal guidance and advice regarding your will or your loved one’s will.
There are actually two different types of lawyers who do wills: estate planning attorneys and probate attorneys. Most of the time (but not always) lawyers will be both estate planning attorneys and probate attorneys, as the two are closely related. An estate planning lawyer helps to create wills, while a probate lawyer helps to execute them.
Let’s take a closer look at these two roles so you can be better informed as to which type of lawyer you may need to contact depending on your unique legal needs!
What Does A California Estate Planning Lawyer Do?
Estate planning lawyers help you plan and draft your will to ensure it states your wishes clearly while staying within California state law. They listen to your needs and create an outline that correlates with your requests. These lawyers also provide legal advice to strengthen your will and give more control to your loved ones after your death.
There are numerous types of wills available to choose from that can tell the court how to distribute your assets after death, assign legal guardians to your children if they aren’t of age when you pass away, ensure the court doesn’t control your property, and even that lay out your wishes for medical care in the event of incapacitation (although most wills only go into effect upon your death).
Estate planning lawyers have extensive experience drafting and reviewing every will type, including but not limited to:
- Last will and testaments – Also known as simple wills, these will types outline which loved ones receive your assets after your passing
- Living wills – Explain your requests for medical treatment if you can’t communicate or aren’t of sound mind
- Joint wills – Combine two individual wills (common with married couples)
- Pour over wills – Transfer assets to a trust at the time of execution
Estate planning lawyers can also help you create a trust that owns your assets in the trust itself. However, unlike wills, trusts can activate immediately after their creation, bypass probate (more on that process below), and shield your assets from government financial aid programs and creditors and taxes. You can choose from multiple trust variations, including:
- Revocable trusts – Allows alteration at any time
- Irrevocable trusts – Prohibits alterations
- Special needs trusts – Tailored for dependents with learning disabilities that require assistance
- Charitable trusts – Designed to provide money to charities
A California estate planning lawyer will evaluate your goals and help you determine which will and trust work best for you. They can draft legal documents that are legally compliant with the most up to date California laws and that will be effective when you and your family need to use them!
If you don’t have a will yet and are ready to get your affairs in order, an estate planning attorney is the type of will lawyer you should seek out.
What Does A California Probate Lawyer Do?
Estate planning is for people planning ahead; probate is for the family members who are navigating the loss after their loved one has passed away and left a will behind. Probate is a California legal process that ensures the correct beneficiaries receive their inheritances according to the deceased family member’s will. Unfortunately, executing the will in probate court can be confusing, time-consuming, and expensive. There are many legal procedures and fees involved. Any mistakes can result in lawsuits, or a lawsuit may occur because the contents/validity of the will is contested.
A probate lawyer can review the will and submit it to the probate court, handle all of the paperwork, and guide you through every step of the probate process if you are facing it after the death of a family member.
They may be able to find a way to help you avoid probate, in some cases. Some assets do not have to go through probate, and some families can request a simplified version of probate or skip it entirely if…
- The deceased person owned all of their assets jointly (they didn’t have any assets in their own name only)
- The deceased person had all of the correct payable-on-death/transfer-on-death beneficiary designations on all of their assets
- The deceased person had countable assets valuing at less than $184,500
- The deceased person had a living trust
A California probate attorney can explain whether or not there is any way that you can avoid the process, or if you can’t, what you should expect. They can take the burden of the legal tasks associated with probate off of you, and do things like…
- Filing the deceased relative’s will with the probate court
- Formally informing heirs and creditors
- Inventorying and protecting the deceased’s assets
- Appraising those assets
- Settling outstanding debts with creditors
- Filing final tax returns
- Distributing remaining assets
- Closing the deceased’s estate
- And more.
Probate is always difficult, but having a probate lawyer on your side makes everything much easier. If you’ve recently lost a loved one and aren’t sure what to do next with their will, this is the type of California will lawyer you should call!
Why Choose Equal Justice Law Group For Your Will Needs?
At Equal Justice Law Group, our experienced estate planning and probate lawyers can help you draft your will and distribute your assets to the designated trustees once you pass away. We explain each process in the simplest terms to ensure you and your family thoroughly understand what we’re doing for you so you can have peace of mind!
Developing an effective will is an involved undertaking that requires a firm understanding of the la w. Although you can find several downloadable will templates online, they may not comply with California state law, and they aren’t personalized to your specific circumstances. Our estate planning lawyers explain your options and help you create a will that secures your family’s future.
Like will development, probate is extraordinarily complicated and can overwhelm grieving family members. The Equal Justice Law Group’s probate lawyers will help your family avoid probate court, if possible, and distribute your property to your loved ones according to your will and last wishes. If probate court is unavoidable, our team will guide your family through the procedure and handle most of the process for them.
At Equal Justice Law Group, we want the best for our clients and go the extra mile to ensure they receive first-class legal representation. Our team sticks by their side while keeping them informed every step of the way. For over 20 years, we have been focusing on will law in California. We’ve helped thousands of California residents with probate and will drafting, and we can do the same for you at a fair and affordable price!
Contact Equal Justice Law Group For Experienced California Will Lawyers
If you need help creating a will or navigating the complex probate process, reach out to Equal Justice Law Group. We always prioritize your needs to ensure you receive high-quality legal services every time you contact our team. Call today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and take your next steps!