Establishing a will is an important step for everybody, but one simple mistake can prevent your final wishes from being carried out. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid these mistakes—as long as you know what to expect. Working with an estate planning attorney near Tracy can help you steer clear of these common will errors:
Neglecting to include all of your property. If asked to name everything they own, most people would probably forget to include a few things. If your will does not include a residuary clause and you do not list everything you own, your will is considered incomplete and your remaining assets will be disposed of by the state. Meeting with a will attorney will help you ensure that all of your assets are accounted for and that nothing is overlooked.
Failing to appoint the right executor. Choosing an executor to administer your estate is one of the most important aspects of drawing up a will, so make sure that you select a trustworthy individual. In the event that your executor is no longer the best person for the task, you will need to alter your will and select a new executor.
Forgetting about estate taxes. When drawing up a will, many people neglect to take estate taxes into account. While you may assume that your estate is not worth enough to be taxed, you should still talk to a will attorney to determine which of your assets are taxable. Estate tax laws change from time to time, so an attorney can ensure that you are kept up to date on the current regulations.
Include all beneficiaries. Before you establish your will, you should take some time to determine who your beneficiaries will be. While you can change your will later, for the sake of convenience it’s best to decide who you wish to include. Generally, you should not have witnesses who are named as beneficiaries in your will.
Failing to update after major life changes. If you have gotten married or divorced, welcomed a child into your family, moved, or started a business, that change should be incorporated into your will. It’s easy to put off these adjustments, but the sooner you change your will, the sooner you will have peace of mind.
Michael C. Belden is an estate planning lawyer in Tracy who is also a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. This program is a California Supreme Court-approved method for certifying attorneys as specialists in different areas of law. In earning this distinction, Mr. Belden had to successfully pass a written examination, attend a number of education programs, complete specific tasks in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate, and undergo a peer review.
In order for Mr. Belden to register to become an estate law specialist, he needed to practice in the specialty area for a certain period of time. Once Mr. Belden passed the Legal Specialist Examination, he is eligible to continue on in the certification process. Through this rigorous process, the State Bar of California ensures that Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law specialists have the knowledge and experience necessary to help his clients.
At Bakerink, McCusker & Belden , our attorneys in Tracy are dedicated to providing our valued clientele with comprehensive legal guidance in our areas of specialization. Attorney Michael C. Belden, one of our partners, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, and bankruptcy. In 2014, the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization granted Mr. Belden the designation of Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. The exhaustive certification process involved a number of continuing education programs, peer reviews, and an intensive examination.
Before Mr. Belden joined our law firm, he served as Assistant Banking Center Manager for Bank of America. He later reviewed appellate cases for the Civil Justice Association of California. Mr. Belden joined the law offices of Bakerink & McCusker as a law clerk in 2003, focusing on estate planning and related matters. He graduated from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2005 and was subsequently admitted to the California State Bar. Since joining our law offices, Mr. Belden has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to client education and counseling.
Brinton R. McCusker, a lawyer serving Tracy , has been providing legal guidance to California residents since 1997. As a founding partner of Bakerink, McCusker & Belden, this injury lawyer has helped hundreds of clients reach favorable resolutions of their cases. Mr. McCusker has extensive experience with all types of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, truck accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, and defective products. Mr. McCusker also represents property managers and landlords in eviction cases, along with civil litigation involving real property disputes and breach of contract.
Before Mr. McCusker began serving residents of Tracy and nearby areas as a skilled lawyer, he served his country in the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1989 as a Russian linguist. Later, in law school, he worked as a law clerk for the County of San Joaquin. Upon becoming a lawyer admitted to the State Bar of California, Mr. McCusker also became a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California, an organization dedicated to fighting for justice on behalf of those who have suffered losses due to negligent acts.
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