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I do not have a family trust. Can I designate my daughter and son as beneficiaries of my assets in the event of my death?

Carlsbad, CA |

Can I do this with a hand written will?

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Attorney answers 5


Yes, you can. However, I would avoid drafting a "holographic will" simply because there are additional legal steps that are involved to authenticate the will, that could make things more costly and time-consuming for your children. If you are not interested in speaking with an estate planning attorney, which would be contrary to my advice, you should instead execute a California statutory will. I have provided the link for you, below. Please ensure that you comply with the instructions.

This response is not intended, nor should it be construed as legal advice. Any information provided is for educational purposes only. To schedule an appointment for an attorney-client privileged consultation, contact me at 530-231-4949. The exchange of communications through and similar social media does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me or my office. Thank you.


Yes, you CAN, but if you care at all whether your wishes and preferences are actually carried out and enforced you will want to be more careful. Lawyers provide much more than pieces of paper. For starters, they apply their knowledge to insure that your papers clearly say what you want an in the right form. Then, and this is particularly important for estate documents, the attorney presides over a "signing ceremony" that involves witnesses and a Notary. Why? Because you won't be around to explain anything or address challenges to the will. Witnesses, attorneys and notaries add important layers of confirmation that the will expresses your real intentions, that you were competent, and not under undue influence.

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


In addition a trust does more than distribute your assets on death. It is a way to take care of your life, and have someone to pay your bills and take care of you while you are living. You should discuss all of the estate planning issues with an attorney.


I'll also add that planning for your incapacity is important too, and a will doesn't address that, so get yourself powers of attorney for health care and property as well.

This answer is intended, but not promised or guaranteed, to be correct, complete and up-to-date, and is of a general nature rather than specific legal advice. This answer is not intended to be a source of advertising, solicitation or legal advice.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


A very good point, and something that do-it-yourselfers almost always miss, or mess up.


I agree with all of the previous answers but will add that a Will does not avoid the probate process. If you have assets other than real property that amount to 150,000 or more, you should be doing a trust. Also if you have an real property you should be doing a trust as well.

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