Mom’s Handwritten Will Not Enough to Avoid Probate

Mom’s Handwritten Will Not Enough to Avoid Probate

We recently met with a brother and sister who needed help with a Probate. Their mother had died and left a very sweet handwritten will leaving her entire estate to them. An aunt, their mother’s sister, accompanied them to our meeting to confirm that the will reflected her sister’s wishes. Like many wills that are drafted as 11th-hour wishes on cocktail napkins or post-it notes, this one was very basic and was missing some key components. It:

  1. Did not name an executor. While the mother named her children as beneficiaries, she should have appointed one of them or a trusted third party as an executor—someone to manage the estate.
  2. Did not waive bond. A surety bond is an insurance policy against wrongdoing that protects the beneficiaries. When an executor or your estate purchases a surety bond, the insurer agrees that if your executor errs in the process of settling your estate, either deliberately or unintentionally, it will compensate your beneficiaries for any money lost. Probate can be a complicated process with many opportunities for missteps.  However, surety bonds can be very expensive, and most people elect to waive this requirement when making their wills because they are appointing their trusted family members.
  3. Was not witnessed by someone of sound mind and body at the time of its creation and signing.

Fortunately, we can help this family with the Probate–but not to avoid Probate–and because of the quality of the will, probate will be more difficult than normal.

Based on the fact that all parties are in agreement that the mother wanted to leave her entire estate to her two children, California Document Preparers can help this family. The Probate process will take about nine months and the siblings will split the estate equally. Unfortunately, the Probate fee, approximately $4,000, will be the responsibility of the brother and sister. Sadly, if the mother had gotten a Living Trust before her death, Probate would not have been necessary.

Probate is expensive, time-consuming and takes an emotional toll

Having to deal with endless paperwork at a time when you are grieving the loss of a loved one is a burden that can be avoided by getting a living trust. Contact one of our California Document Preparation offices—we help make it easy for our clients.