By utilizing a basic will, Californians can spell out how they wish for their assets to be distributed upon their death. Although many people think of this legal document as easily executable, it can raise some serious legal issues if improperly handled. This is why it is usually best to have the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney before creating and finalizing one of these wills.
One problem that can arise with a will is the validity of its signing. An improperly signed will is an invalid will, which means that the terms laid out in the document may not be fulfilled.
So what must be done to ensure that a will is properly signed? To start, two individuals who are over the age of 18 must witness the testator's signing of the document. To avoid any perception of undue influence or coercion, it is best that these witnesses are not beneficiaries or heirs to any part of the estate. Doing this can reduce or eliminate the potential for future litigation.
There are other steps that can be taken to ensure that a will's signing is legally valid. For example, having witnesses sign an affidavit indicating that they did in fact witness the will's signing and themselves signed off on the document can eliminate the need to have them testify in court as to the will's authenticity. Also, it's best to inform the estate executor of the will's creation and location so that it can be easily accessed. This can also reduce the possibility of claims that the will has been forged or tampered with.
On their face, wills are relatively straightforward, simple documents. Yet, an improperly executed will can destroy what was otherwise a well-thought out estate plan. There's no sense in taking that risk, which is why it is wise to acquire the aid of a legal professional when navigating the estate planning process.