The Los Angeles Times recently published an op-ed piece entitled – “How could someone rich and famous like Prince die without a will? It’s not unusual. Just ask an estate lawyer.” In the piece, Jack B. Osborn, an estate attorney, goes on to write –
Amazingly, it is not unusual for the rich and famous to die without a will. Jimi Hendrix, Pablo Picasso, Bob Marley, Howard Hughes, Sonny Bono and Abraham Lincoln all died without a will. Lincoln was the first president to die without a will even though he was an attorney.
Thinking about death, never mind what happens after you die, is hard for most people. Mr. Osborn states that only 41% of people ages 55 to 64 have a will. Without a will controlling the settling of an estate and distribution of the assets, the lawyer fees can take a larger share of those assets. Mr. Osborn notes –
The American Bar Association estimates that probate proceedings cost Americans up to $2 billion per year, of which nearly $1.5 billion is paid in attorneys’ fees.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
An individual can take a number of steps to prepare for the passing of assets to the next generation. Alameda County Law Library makes available resources to help you research the legal issues involved with drawing up a will, planning your estate, or establishing a living (revocable during one’s life) trust.
Getting started with the process –
For the non-attorney, materials from the NOLO publishing company can be most helpful –
- 101 Law Forms for Personal Use / NOLO Editors KF 170 .L46 2013 (Self Help) – various templates depending on your personal family situation
- The Mom’s Guide to Wills & Estate Planning / Liza Hanks KF 750 .Z9 H3273 2009 (Self Help)
- Make Your Own Living Trust 12th ed. / Denis Clifford KF 734 .C58 201 (Self Help) – avoiding probate, other ways to pass on property
and one of our more useful titles as it does a wonderful job of summarizing most legal procedures and issues involving death and the transfer of property
- How to Probate an Estate in California: A Step by Step Guide 23rd ed. / Julia Nissley KFC 205 Z9 N57 2016 (Self Help)
Many of the NOLO titles are available through the ACLL website.
- Access the Legal Databases webpage on ACLL’s website.
- Once you are at the page, move down the screen until you see –
Provides more than 220 online full text legal reference books and thousands of legal forms, the majority from Nolo, the nation’s oldest provider of legal information for consumers and small businesses including: California specific books and forms, business law, property and real estate, rights and disputes and much more. These books and forms may be searched, printed and e-mailed both from within the library and outside the library. Laptop access is available to Legal Information Reference Center materials and forms in both libraries via WiFi. Please click on EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center to connect to this database from anywhere. It is also available from the public computers’ menu at the Main Library and on a public computer at the Branch Library in Hayward.
For detailed information on how to use the the NOLO database click here.
- The here link at the end provides instructions on how to log on to the database, as well as, search for information from a particular NOLO title.
There are other resources on the internet that are helpful when tackling the issues of drafting a will.
- Wills, Estates, and Probate – information from the California courts website
- California Statutory Will Form – free simple form from the California State Bar’s website
- Making a Will – from NOLO’s website
- How to Write a Will – another NOLO site
New to California – Transfer on Death deeds
In the past, many individuals added others to the title of real property as joint tenants in an attempt to avoid formal probate court proceedings after death. As of the beginning of the 2016, California real property owners have another simplified option for transferring real property after death – Transfer on Death deed (TOD) See a prior post for more information and resources on this option. POST HERE
Don’t be a Prince. Be a prince for your heirs. Make a tough situation simpler for them and make a will.