A Will is a set of instructions from the creator of the Will, the Testator, describing the disposition of their property after death. It is a place to name the person who will handle your affairs after you pass away and who will get your assets.
Generally, a Will is not the best way for someone’s Estate to be handled because a Will needs to be administered by the Court. This process is referred to as Probate and can be costly and time-consuming. Most often a Revocable Living Trust is preferred as the mechanism to pass assets to the next generation. Unfortunately, during a pandemic, some things aren’t easy.
We California residents have been directed to stay-at-home during the COVID-19 pandemic. So multiple trips to a lawyer’s office are out of the question. All of my appointments have been via phone or video call. I certainly am not sending anyone to a notary public. A complete Estate Plan is harder to get done today than under normal conditions. So how can someone who needs a Last Will and Testament create one? The answer is easy – a handwritten Will.
Under California Probate Code 6111(a) a handwritten Will is legally valid. The legal term for it is a Holographic Will. There are only two requirements that must be met.
1 – The material provisions MUST be handwritten by the creator of the Will. The easiest thing to do is to write out in longhand the entire Will to ensure there are no questions. Name Guardians for minors and the Executor. Name who you want to inherit your property, both real estate and personal belongings. Be clear and concise, but most of all write legibly!
2 – The Will MUST be signed AND dated. If there are multiple pages, I suggest dating, numbering and initially each page.
That’s it, under California Law this is a completely legal and valid Last Will & Testament. No witness signatures or notarization is required.
A Will is far from the only thing needed in a comprehensive estate plan. I don’t recommend anyone consider their Estate Plan complete if all they have is a Will. However, under shelter in place and social distancing rules, it is one of the easiest documents to create. Any plan is better than no plan and, in my opinion, having only a handwritten Will is far better than nothing.
Creating a Living Trust without leaving home or having it notarized is more difficult. Look for an article on that soon.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a free Estate Planning Strategy Session, just call my office toll free at 855-700-4866, visit www.binghamestatelaw.com or click the Book Now button on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/binghamestatelaw