On January 28, 1547 King Henry VIII of England died leaving behind three children from three different wives, a religious reformation, and a will that the infamous monarch did not sign. Initially it was said that the will was lost, but eventually the document was discovered, and it contained only a dry stamp instead of an actual signature. The lack of a signature led to the validity of the will being challenged, causing multiple problems for his heirs. Now, nearly five hundred years later, improperly executed wills continue to cause trouble in probate courts throughout the United States. Finding out if your will is valid before it is too late can save your heirs years of stress and legal headaches.
Did You Write it Down?
Last minute, also referred to as deathbed, bequests play a large role in history and our culture. The idea of one final act of kindness is heartwarming, but unfortunately, it can cause legal nightmares for everyone involved. For that reason, your will must be in writing in order to be considered valid. Verbal agreements or oral wills are not a good way to attempt to pass property on to your heirs.
Is it Signed?
As the descendants of King Henry VIII discovered, signing is one of the key elements of finalizing a last will and testament. The signature of a person is seen as a voluntary agreement to all of the content outlined throughout the document itself. The state of California requires a person to be at least 18 years of age in order write and sign a valid will. If you have remembered to sign your will once it is completed, you are off to a good start, but unfortunately signing the will is not the only thing you need to do to make it valid.
Did You Have a Witness?
Even though signing your will is extremely important, that is not the only thing required to make your California will valid. You must have at least two people witness the signing of your will or the acknowledgment of your will. Both people must be there at the same time and you must make sure that they are aware that you are signing a will.
What Was Your State of Mind?
Any will that you create must be written and signed while you are of sound mind. If you are unable to understand or consent to the document, then it may not be considered valid. This law was created to protect people who do not have the mental capacity to understand their actions. Individuals who are under the care of another person may be taken advantage of and forced to alter their will without discussing the choice with family members or legal counsel.
Have You Talked to an Attorney?
When it comes to your estate, never take chances that place your heirs at risk. Always consult a qualified trust and estate lawyer before assuming that the will you have written is legally binding. Failing to double check that everything was done correctly could leave your heirs in a serious bind. If you need help creating a will or revising an existing one, contact MMZ Law. Schedule a private consultation at our Claremont, California office so that we can begin providing you with the legal advice you need.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.