I am a 71-year-old widow. All I have is my house. Do I have to spend a lot of money making a will or a trust? I have two grown children and have said it will be up to them to do what they want with the house. I have called attorneys but they want $700 and up to make out a living trust or will. I cannot afford that amount. What advice can you give me? Thank you very much.
A: It is entirely possible, based on the information provided, that you do not need to have either a will or a trust. If you were to die without either of those documents in place, then your estate would pass by what is known as intestate succession.
If you have only two children, and no predeceased children, then the house would pass to your two children. If the only asset you have is your house and its gross value is less than $150,000 at the time of your death, your children would not have to go through a formal probate proceeding. However, they would need to go through what is known as a summary estate proceeding (see my Feb. 25 blog entry, "Do I Go Through Probate for a Modest Estate?").
I would not recommend attempting to create a living trust yourself.
However, because your estate seems to be very simple, you can create a will using the California Statutory Will. This form is available on the State Bar of California's website at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/publications/Will-Form.pdf.