Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Blasser Law
Schedule A Free Consultation 877-927-2181
Home > Estate Planning Articles > Understanding California Estate Planning Laws

Understanding California Estate Planning Laws

A Sample Last Will and Testament document on keyboard with glasses.Estate planning is a crucial process that ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Without an estate plan, the state of California decides what happens to your property after you are gone, and the decisions they make might not be the ones you would have chosen. Careful estate planning can also minimize taxes and probate, ensuring that more of your estate gets into the hands of the people you want to receive it and in a timely manner.

See below for a look at some of the major elements of most estate plans and the California laws that control them. For help creating or updating your estate plan in Los Angeles or the San Gabriel Valley, contact Blasser Law in Claremont to share your needs and goals with a team of skilled and dedicated California estate planning attorneys.

In California, estate planning laws govern how your assets are managed and distributed, including wills, trusts, and probate procedures. Understanding these laws can help you make informed decisions about your estate plan.


A will is a legal document that specifies how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. You can use your will to leave a legacy to family members, friends, charities, educational institutions, public parks or museums, or other intended beneficiaries. Your will can also name a person to serve as executor of your estate and appoint a guardian for any minor children you may have. Provisions in your will can also help ensure that every piece of your estate is duly accounted for and distributed according to your wishes.

In California, a will must meet the requirements of Sections 6110-6113 of the California Probate Code to be valid. Chief among these requirements is that it must be in writing, signed by you, and witnessed by two people. If you cannot sign the will, you can direct another person in your presence to sign the will on your behalf. Under certain conditions, California courts will accept a holographic will as valid, which is one that is written in the testator’s handwriting and signed by the testator.

If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to California’s intestacy laws found in section 6400 and subsequent sections of the California Probate Code. These laws distribute your estate to immediate and extended family members or the state if you don’t have any surviving family members.


A trust is a legal arrangement where you transfer your assets to a trustee who manages them for the benefit of your beneficiaries. There are several types of trusts available in California, including revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, and special needs trusts. Each type of trust has its own benefits and considerations, so it’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine which trust is right for you.

Trusts are governed by Division 9 of the California Probate Code. Under these laws, a trust can be created in many different ways. Generally speaking, a valid trust is created in a written instrument that manifests the settlor’s intention to create a trust. The trust document identifies the trustee and beneficiaries, who are either named or definitely ascertainable. The settlor can serve as the initial trustee and name a successor trustee, but a valid trust cannot have only one person serving as sole trustee and beneficiary. A trust is a complex legal document that should be prepared by an experienced estate planning professional to ensure it is valid, enforceable, and accomplishes your aims.

Probate Procedures

Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s assets. In California, the probate process can be lengthy and expensive, often taking several months to complete. However, certain assets, such as those held in a trust or with a designated beneficiary, may not be subject to probate. It’s important to work with an estate planning attorney to minimize the impact of probate on your estate.

Other Considerations

In addition to wills, trusts, and probate, there are other important aspects of estate planning to consider in California. These may include:

  • Advance healthcare directives, which allow you to specify your healthcare preferences in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
  • Durable powers of attorney, which designate someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  • Estate tax planning, which involves minimizing estate taxes that may be owed upon your death.

Contact Blasser Law in Claremont for Help With Estate Planning in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley

Estate planning is a complex process, but understanding California’s estate planning laws can help you navigate the process more effectively. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and minimize the impact of taxes and probate on your estate. If you have questions about estate planning in California, call Blasser Law today at 877-927-2181 for a free consultation.

Blasser Law

445 West Foothill Blvd., Suite 108
Claremont, CA 91711




Connect With Us

  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
  • YouTube

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from www.blasserlaw.com

Designed and Powered by NextClient

© 2016 - 2024 Blasser Law. All rights reserved.
Custom WebShop™ law firm website design by NextClient.com.