Just about everyone has heard of the estate planning document called a last will or last will and testament. If you create a will, you are called the testator. In order for a will to be valid in the state of California, the testator must be a mentally competent adult who is not being intimidated or coerced in any way.
The testator must sign the will in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses must also sign the will. After the passing of the testator, the will is admitted to probate. During probate, the court supervises the administration of the estate.
In many states in the union, there is a proving of the will. The court contacts the witnesses to make sure that they did in fact sign the document under legally acceptable circumstances. However, in these states, a notarized self-proving affidavit can be attached, and this would save time, because the court would not have to contact the witnesses.
In California, if the will is properly executed in the first place, it is already considered to be self-proving, so there is no need for the affidavit.
Food for Thought
As we have stated, any mentally competent adult can theoretically create a valid last will. Many people come across sites online that sell legal documents, and they assume that they can go the DIY route. You just download documents off the Internet, and you are good to go.
This is a risky proposition, because you are creating the last will to pass along everything that you have earned throughout your life to the people that you love the most. Are you sure that a template, boilerplate document would do the trick?
Plus, an objective analysis has been conducted. Most people are aware of the highly respected magazine Consumer Reports. These people do a lot of great work analyzing goods and services for the benefit of consumers. In 2012, they engaged three legal professors to examine do-it-yourself wills that were created using tools that were obtained online.
The professors felt as though there were deficiencies, and the magazine advised against DIY estate planning.
Make the Right Choices
A last will can be a suitable choice for some people, but it is not the only option that you have when you are planning your estate. This is true even if you are not extraordinarily wealthy.
Your estate plan should be tailor-made to suit your specific needs, because your family is unique from every other. You should consider the life situation and personal proclivities of every person on your inheritance list. Slicing up a pie into different lump sum pieces is not always the best way to go.
We can help if you would like to discuss your situation with a licensed professional. Our firm offers free consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to set up an appointment: Campbell CA Estate Planning Attorneys.