Sacramento Estate Lawyer: How Long Does Your Last Will and Testament Need to Be?

Any estate lawyer in Sacramento will tell you that every person needs a will. Sure, the wealthy may have more assets to distribute, but pretty much everyone still needs to have their last wishes laid out in a legal document.

Even if it is just to keep the peace within your family, a will is necessary. If you want a specific item to go to a specific person, you need to have this in your will or else the laws in California may allow someone else, such as a parent or sibling, the right to that item if he or she doesn’t care to respect your wishes. But how long does the will need to be?

Estate lawyers in Sacramento will tell you that the answer is, “however long it takes.” In order to be legally binding, a will needs to have certain attributes. Once all of these are contained in the document, the will is by definition, “long enough.” So, what does your last will and testament need to include?

  • The will needs to state that it is, in fact, your will. You can’t just say that in the event of your death you want all of your assets to go to your cousin. The document should say this, of course, but written into the document must be wording that specifically names this document as your will.
  • Your will must list an executor. The executor is the person who is in charge of making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
  • The will should state where any property should go, and when, in the event of your death. It can be left as a lump gift, or can be divided in small increments, but it needs to list where the assets will be going.

Of course, that isn’t all that makes a will legally binding. Laws vary from state to state, but pretty much everywhere there are a few givens that you can count on:

  • You must be at least age 18, or otherwise legally responsible for your own property and affairs.
  • You must be of sound mind, and able to make legal decisions about your property and interests. Estate lawyers in Sacramento will tell you that if there is any reason to think you may not be legally able to make your own decisions, a will can be contested.

To make sure that your will isn’t contested, you should have witnesses sign the document, as this person can state with assurance that you were, in fact, of sound mind when you signed the document.

How long a will needs to be really depends on the amount of property you wish to detail in the will itself. Otherwise, as long as it states that it is a will, and the executor is named, it can be as long or short as you want it to be. Estate lawyers in Sacramento have seen wills that are a single paragraph, even; it’s all about how detailed you wish to make it.

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