You could potentially use a last will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. In order for a last will to be valid in the state of California, certain conditions must be met. The person who is creating the will is called the testator. The testator must be an adult who is of sound mind when the will is being created, and there must be no fraud or coercion involved.
Two adults must witness the testator signing the will, and they also have to sign the will. Notarization is not necessary in the state of California.
When a will is used as a vehicle of asset transfer, it must be admitted to probate after the death of the testator. This is a legal process that takes place under the supervision of a court.
In many states, there is a proving of the will during the probate process. The court is compelled to contact witnesses to make sure that the will was signed by the testator under the right circumstances.
The matter can be simplified in these states if a self proving will is created in the first place. A self proving affidavit would be created and notarized, and it would be presented along with the will after the passing of the testator. This would allow the court to accept the validity of the will without contacting any witnesses.
In the state of California, there is no proving of the will, so there is no need for a self proving affidavit. As long as the will is properly constructed and witnessed, it would be accepted by the court as valid.
Is a Will Right for You?
When you think about estate planning, you may assume that you should use a last will, because it seems like a simple way to go. A will can be an acceptable choice for many people, but you do have other options.
The probate process that we have touched upon can be quite time-consuming, and the heirs to the estate cannot receive their inheritances while it is underway. It will typically take close to a year, and this is a significant time lag that can negatively impact inheritors.
You could potentially create a revocable living trust as an asset transfer vehicle if you want to get assets into the hands of your loved ones in a more timely manner.
The avoidance of probate is one reason why you may want to consider an alternative to a last will, but there are other circumstances that could be present that would call for more advanced asset transfer vehicles.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Personalized attention is the key to a properly constructed estate plan. If you would like to discuss your estate planning goals with a licensed and experienced professional, contact us through this page to set up a free consultation: Campbell CA Estate Planning Attorneys.