Can You Videotape Your Will & How to Handle Estate for Minors in California

Will - Probate formalities

20 Feb Can You Videotape Your Will & How to Handle Estate for Minors in California

Key Probate Questions: Can You Videotape Your Will & How to Handle Estate for Minors in California
In the State of California, it is the written (handwritten or typed) will that is honored.  A video tape of a person talking about his or her wishes after death is accepted only as a support document. Thus, you can video-tape the desires and wishes provided the person is mentally capable and you can prove that he or she is not under duress or undue influence.

A video tape is a good idea if there is reason to believe that additional evidence is needed to ensure that all wishes are followed.

How to Make a Valid Will

When making a last will, a holographic (handwritten) will is not necessarily more respected and believed by the court. In fact, there are requirements to ensure that a holographic will is legal and accepted by the judge. A holographic will must:

  • Be written by someone who is at least 18 years old
  • Be Of sound mind, able to understand the importance and significance of the document, and not suffer from hallucinations, delusions, or other similar conditions
  • Be able to remember assets, relatives, immediate family and his or her relationship to each one
  • Have at least two witnesses present
  • Be written entirely by the will maker, including dates
  • Be able to present proof of handwriting to help in authenticating the holographic will

There are possible complications to a holographic will including the need to prove that the will is authentic. Thus, if there are no witnesses who can recognize the handwriting of the will maker, there are some conservative probate judges who may hesitate to approve the will as valid. In addition, any corrections, erasures, or misspelled words may add to the confusion and cause a lengthy probate.

If you want to type the will, you will also need two witnesses and a notary public. It is best not to resort to a template from an unverified source because it is probably not as strong and personalized as a document done personally by an estate lawyer.  However, the California State Bar has a Statutory Form on the web page which you download. One word of caution: if there are items on the form that you do not understand, do not use it until you have consulted with an estate lawyer.

The Law on Minors as Beneficiaries

California does not allow minors to inherit huge assets and sums and mandate that a guardian for the estate be chosen and appointed. That is, unless a guardian has been named in the last will.

There have been cases when the guardian named is not the parent but someone who is more trusted by the will maker. However, under the state’s Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (CUTMA), a Californian minor can receive an inheritance or asset including real estate, paintings, jewelry and others if the value is below $20,000 and the gift is tax-free. However, the minor is not allowed to make any contract on the inheritance until he becomes an adult.  In the meantime, the assets are held in custody.

Grandchildren also constitute a special probate case especially if the parents of the grandchildren are still alive. If the grandchildren are still minors, they fall under the CUTMA umbrella and will need a custodian to manage the inheritance until they reach age of maturity.

Planning is critical when planning your estate because guardianship can be very costly. An experienced estate lawyer from The Law Offices of Damian Nolan can assist you and your relatives avoid unnecessary expenses.

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