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Ask the County Law Librarian – Statutory Will Form



Q: I would like to write a will, to make sure everything is taken care of if anything happens to me. I don’t have a lot of property, but as a single parent, I’m concerned about making sure I appoint someone to care for my son in the event of my death. I’ve called a few lawyers, but it is really expensive, so I think I will need to do it myself.  I found lots of forms online, but they’re all different. I want to make sure it’s legally binding, but I don’t know what’s required. Any suggestions where I can find information about this?

Thanks!
Craig

A: You have several options, depending on the size of your estate and how you would like it distributed.

If your estate is fairly simple, you may want to consider using the California Statutory Will, which is spelled out in Section 6240 of the California Probate Code. The California State Bar has uploaded this simple will form to its website, which you can download for free. This will form works well for California residents with simple estates, allowing for specific gifts of real estate, vehicles, cash, and household and personal effects. This will form also includes clauses for appointing a guardian to care for minor children, and a custodian to take control of assets left to minor children.

This form is not intended for people with large or complex estates. If the statutory will form does not suit your needs, you may want to consult some of the will books in the Law Library’s collection, such as "Make Your Own California Will," "Quick and Legal Will Book," or "Quicken WillMaker Plus." These books are written in plain-English, and are intended for people who wish to write their own wills.

Additionally, the State Bar’s “Do I Need a Will?” pamphlet provides information about the statutory will form and other types of wills, to help you determine what will best suit your needs.

Keep in mind that wills are not the only estate planning device available to you. The State Bar’s “Do I Need Estate Planning?” pamphlet provides information about other methods of planning your estate to avoid probate, such as trusts and pay-on-death accounts. The Law Library’s collection also includes a number of resources that provide details for choosing estate planning methods that will best suit your needs.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh
& @saclawlibrarian
www.saclaw.org

 
  • Excellent advice, Coral! Everyone needs to address these issues. All it takes is the bad experience of dealing with a parent’s estate to wake you up. Do it now!

  • james e brown

    As
    the husband and the trustee of the estate may I speak on the behalf of my
    loving wife Louise and the estate.

    Steve
    the head pastor at the first Baptist church of Lodi married my wife Louise &
    me in his church.

    Because
    of his prayers, kindness and along with all the money I had given the church I also
    gave them 75% residue of the trust.

    I also gave 25% residue to the Oklahoma cancer
    society so they could help people in the future.

    What
    was left when I died, not at present but when I died they could have the
    residue that was left.

    The
    churches lawyer who is a member of the church and pastor Steve are the ones suing
    the trust.

    The
    lawyer is a member of the church and a beneficiary at the same time.

    I
    am a member of that church. That is why the great stress at this time.

    First
    of all I did not ask for this job of trustee.

    I
    was volunteered by my wife because she didn’t trust her children, she said.

    The
    mere fact that I am here means you assume I did something wrong.

    To
    my way of thinking and to the best of my knowledge I did nothing wrong.

    I
    hired a lawyer David Marshall and he was handling everything and that was the
    truth.

    I
    gave him all the papers I had at the time and he did not give anything back.

    He
    suddly quit after I paid him and I don’t know why, but when I tried to talk to
    him about the matter he wouldn’t talk to me or just wasn’t there, I had to
    assume he was finished and everything was in order and taken care of, and it
    was finished, I had paid him more than he wanted by accident and I would like
    it back.

    I want to know the Linage of the people on the
    list and their birth dates before I can borrow the money and pay them because,
    I have never met them, and don’t know them, and some have different lost names.

    If
    the trust was done wrong and therefore is no good, can the other will be used, Louise
    made on original will prior to the trust on the computer but previously and had
    it notarized and it is legal as far as I know.

    If
    this is done the way court says it is to be done, will I get something in
    writing saying this is the last time I will have to go to court about this case
    or trust.

    I’m
    just like most people I have trouble remembering sometimes due to my age of 74,
    but given time I can still do the job.

    I
    have trouble seeing and the glasses they gave me don’t work.

    At
    times I have trouble walking because of my diabetes I have cancer, have had a 5
    way bypass, an operation on my corided artery,
    army war injuries to my head, face and body and I can’t sleep on that
    side sense the operation to my corided artery.
    I don’t know what I need to take to court incase the lawyer dosen’t.

    I
    would like to be able to read what my wife wrote about her family in court and
    what she thinks about me her husband and trustee. What I would present has her signature
    on it.

    Can
    I appeal the decision because of all the close ties on their side?

    ? California Probate code sec. 16064 the
    trustee is not required to account to a beneficiary as described in subdivision
    however the court may compel the trustee to account. What dose compel mean if
    reference to the court action.