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Los Angeles Guide

Wills and Trusts

Stolar & Associates
Professional Law Corporation
433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 600
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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Although it is possible to make a perfectly valid and effective will by yourself, most people should consider hiring an attorney to draft their will. In addition to insuring that the will is valid, attorneys are frequently able to assist clients with the following:

Improving their estate plan by suggesting alternatives or considerations that might otherwise be overlooked.
Avoiding problems caused by unclear language.
Reducing or eliminating challenges on the grounds of undue influence, fraud, or forgery.
Furthermore, the services of an attorney to prepare a simple will are not expensive. Where tax planning considerations, a need for detailed instructions, or special problems are not present, a simple will can be obtained for a fee of approximately $150.00 to $300.00, which is a small price to pay for the additional security of professional assistance. Where tax planning considerations, a need for detailed instructions or special problems do exist, the cost will be higher, but so will the benefits. Tax savings alone can frequently pay all the attorney fees.
Note: An attorney should be consulted where:

The gross value of your estate, including life insurance, employer death benefits, and anything you might inherit from your spouse or others, exceeds $600,000.
Where one or more of your heirs may have trouble managing their affairs due to age, infirmity, improvidence, lack of training, or simply lack of desire.
Where there are businesses or partnerships involved.
Where there might be substantial conflict among the heirs.
Where there are any other unusual or bothersome circumstances.

Do I need a lawyer to draft my will?
Yes. A lawyer will draft your will according to your state's laws to make sure it will be valid when you die. In addition, your lawyer can talk with you about provisions you might want to consider, such as:

Appointing a guardian if any of your beneficiaries are minors; Establishing a trust; Distributing property you own in another state; Making special provisions for a disabled child, divorced spouse, or charitable institution.

How do I know if I need a simple will?
A simple will may be appropriate for you if your distribution plan is uncomplicated. For example, a simple will may be all you need if you want everything to go to your spouse and then equally to your children if your spouse does not survive you. However, if you want minor children or grandchildren to receive property, you will need to appoint a guardian and possibly set up a trust, which is not simple. A simple will would not be appropriate if you want to make gifts to specific people or charities.

To be eligible for this simple will, you must have a simple distribution plan, and a simple will must be appropriate for your circumstances. The following distribution plans or personal circumstances are NOT considered appropriate for simple wills:

Gifts to minors
Gifts of specific items or amounts to individuals
Specific provisions for a disabled relative
Estates worth more than $200,000
Real estate in a state other than your home state
Desire to forgive debts others owe to you at your death
Spouse who may need nursing home care
Major gifts made within the past three years
Living children who you want to exclude under your will

Your lawyer will explain if a simple will is not appropriate for you and prepare the document for 20% less than the lawyer's regular fee.


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