When you create a will or general estate plan, you may hear several different terms used to describe key people.
- A personal representative or executor is the person who will handle your estate administration, from submitting your will to probate all the way through distributing your assets at the end.
- Your beneficiaries, or the people/organizations who stand to receive something in your estate plan.
- Your trustee, who is the person appointed to handle management of any created trusts while you’re alive or after you pass away.
- Witnesses, who are the people that witness the singing of your will.
Certain states require you to use witnesses to the signing of your will. California is one of them. These people are individuals who essentially sign off in saying that they were present at the time that you reviewed and accepted the will and appear to be of sound mind. Although some states require witnesses, witnesses can also be helpful in boosting any claims that you were of sound mind at the time of signing, thereby reducing the possibility of future claims of incompetence. In some states, witnesses must sign what is known as a self-proving affidavit in the presence of a notary.
Furthermore, this affidavit can also greatly speed up probate since witnesses won’t get called into court by a judge to validate the authenticity of the will or their signatures. Make sure that you consult directly with an estate planning attorney in Pasadena to discuss what’s involved in creating and signing your will. Clarity on this process will help you in the next steps.