Eight Facts About Proper Witnessing of Your Orange County Estate Plan

Perhaps more so than any other task you will undertake, creating an estate plan in Orange County requires careful attention to detail. Few things in life are as important as choosing a guardian for your minor children, naming who will make decisions about your medical care, and deciding who will receive all of your assets after you have passed away. This level of detail extends beyond the distribution of your assets, however. While creating your estate plan, it is also vital that you comply with all requirements under California law in order to ensure that your documents are valid. One such requirement relates to whether or not your documents need to be witnessed at the time you sign. The answer is different for each of the common estate planning documents. 

As you create your Orange County estate plan, it is important to have an experienced attorney oversee the signing. The following are eight helpful tips about witnesses and executing estate planning documents:

  1. A trust is generally notarized, without the need for witnesses.
  2. An advanced directive can either be signed by two witnesses or notarized.
  3. A financial power of attorney can also either be signed by two witnesses or notarized.
  4. A will should typically have two witnesses.
  5. The witnesses to the will should each see the testator sign the will, or at a minimum, acknowledge her signature.
  6. The witnesses should be 18 years old or older and should not stand to benefit under the terms of the will.
  7. The witnesses should fully understand that the document they are witnessing is a last will and testatment.
  8. If a will does not have two witnesses, the person seeking to admit the will to probate will have to take extra steps to prove that the will was in fact the testator’s and that she knew what she was doing when she signed the will. 

Properly executing your estate planning documents is vital to the overall success of your plan. To learn more about creating an estate plan involving a trust, view our guide, Understanding the Revocable Living Trust - In Language that Anyone Can Understand in 8 Minutes. Contact  an experienced Orange County estate planning lawyer today at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm