Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

Stop Gap Estate Planning Measures

Nov 01, 2020 09:17AM ● By Danel Du Ree

Stop Gap Estate Planning Measures


Even as shelter-in-place directives are gradually loosened, the more “experienced” and medically vulnerable cohorts are still advised to limit in-person contact. So what can you do if you need to get your affairs in order but do not want to risk an in-person meeting? Here are a couple of steps you can take as a stopgap measure until you feel comfortable with in-person meetings.


Handwritten Will

In California, as long as you handwrite the key provisions in your will and sign it, the will is valid. You do not need two witnesses, as the court can analyze your handwriting in order to “prove” you wrote it. You still may be stuck with probate, however.


Beneficiary Forms

These days, many financial institutions allow you to use a “pay on death” or beneficiary form to designate who receives the account proceeds upon your death. Contact your financial institution for their particular rules and forms.


(Temporarily) Un-notarized Trust and Transfer Deed

Although best practice dictates we notarize trusts, notarization is not legally required. The legal requirements are “written” and “signed.” For this reason, you can sign a trust and wait until later to have it notarized. Notarization does not have to be done on the same day the document is signed. Rather, you need to prove that you’re the person referenced in the document and that you signed in that same capacity. You can also sign the deed transferring your home in this same way. Although the deed must be notarized before it is recorded, just the unrecorded deed can avoid probate through what is called a Heggstad petition. That is a bit far afield for this discussion, but it is a legitimate path for someone who cannot or does not want to meet with a notary.


Remote Zoom or Phone estate Planning

We are offering both Zoom and phone based estate planning services. We can work with you to figure out the best path so you can protect your family and your assets while also acting safely and responsibly. Please give us a call. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Stay safe out there.