Many Americans, including here in California, do not have a will or a trust. This is typically because they simply have not found the time to make one. Wills and trusts are a crucial part of estate planning. Without one in place before you die, surviving family members may have to confront some thorny problems in order to arrange for the lawful distribution of your estate.
A last will generally includes specific details concerning your intentions and how you want your assets and belongings to be distributed among your surviving heirs. Many do not think it is necessary to go into serious detail in creating a will or trust. However, the problems that have recently arisen regarding Robin Williams’ estate suggest otherwise.
One of the best ways to be as specific as possible to ensure that the right person receives the right piece of property is to take photographs of the items and clearly indicate on the photograph who is to receive it. For example, if someone with two Persian rugs executes a will stating only that one rug will go to one daughter and the other rug will go to the other daughter, then the daughters may fight over which rug each one of them will get. By taking photos of the rugs and labeling which daughter is to get which rug, the fighting is essentially eliminated.
It’s true that this may take a little more time when preparing a will or a trust, but the extra effort will be well worth it in the long run. You will be able to rest easy knowing that you have drafted a document that will keep your family out of the courtroom and limit the arguments over who gets what. California residents will likely benefit by ensuring that wills and trusts are as detailed as possible in order to make the estate planning process easier on themselves and their loved ones. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is an appropriate place to start.