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Need Help With a Will?

Getting help with creating and managing a will is an important step to take in your life. If you want your property to go to specific people after you die, or to name who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out, or to avoid legal issues, a wills lawyer can help.

Use FindLaw to find a wills lawyer near you to prepare a will tailored to your circumstances. You can also find a wills lawyer to help you with living wills -- also known as an advance directive or medical power of attorney -- last will and testaments, and joint or reciprocal wills.

What Does a Will Do?

A will – often called a last will and testament – provides for how your property and final affairs will be dealt with after you die. The last will and testament is the most common legal document used in estate planning, to provide for what you want to do with your assets after you pass away. It can be difficult to address estate planning. Talking to your family about end-of-life decisions is a sensitive matter. An estate planning lawyer can provide options and legal advice about wills, trusts, and how to handle your estate.

How Much Does an Attorney Charge for a Will in California?

In general, an attorney can provide a will based on a flat fee or hourly rate. The cost to prepare a will depends on several factors, including the type of estate, number of assets, and specific wishes of the client. For example, a person with modest assets and no children may want all their assets to go to one person, and so they may use a simple will. In contrast, a person with a lot of assets and specific distribution plans may have a more complicated will or they may require a trust.

Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in California?

In general, you can make a simple will on your own without an attorney. However, there are several benefits to consulting with an experienced wills lawyer. A wills lawyer can provide options for how to handle property, real estate, and assets after death. A wills attorney can also develop an estate plan to provide for your family and loved ones without the unnecessary delays and costs of going through intestacy.

The basic requirements for a will generally include the mental capacity to understand the nature of a will, testimonial intent to have the will take effect, the will is in writing, and signed by the testator before witnesses. Different states may have other specific requirements to establish a will. One of the benefits of using an experienced lawyer is that the probate attorney understands the legal requirements to prepare a will and make sure that it will be enforced.

If there is no will or the will is not enforceable, the decedent's estate may go through probate and property will be distributed according to the state's intestate distribution laws. If someone dies intestate, their property will be distributed to their relatives. If there are no relatives, the property will go to the state.

How To Hire a Good California Attorney

Finding the best lawyer for your unique situation can be a challenge, but the best way to hire a good California attorney is to talk with them, ask them questions, and make sure they meet all your needs. This usually starts with their practice area. Determine which lawyers can handle your type of case and then find a California attorney with experience in that area. So it will be important to ask about each lawyer’s years of experience, legal training, and strategy to your unique legal case.

The attorney-client relationship may also be important. If it is your first time dealing with a legal issue, you may be looking for a lawyer who can clearly and patiently explain the legal process, identify your options, and answer all your questions. You may also want an attorney who is available at any time to provide legal advice. Think about questions to ask, like if there are updates to your case, how will that be communicated? Are there specific California law deadlines that you are required to meet?

The location of your attorney's law office may also be an important factor. In larger cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco, you may want to find a lawyer with a convenient location to you so that you don't have to drive an hour just for signing legal papers. However, some legal services can be primarily conducted through phone calls, emails, written correspondence, and video calls, so you could, for example, have a lawyer in Sacramento handle your legal issues in Riverside.

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