It's been a long two-plus years as we've lived through COVID-19 lockdowns and are now adjusting to a new "normal." In the estate planning world, when things were really bad, it was difficult to get documents signed when we couldn't meet in person. People living in assisted living or care homes could not have visitors. We did a lot of improvising.
While most estate planning documents are effective without a notary, a Deed must be notarized, or it cannot be recorded, and a Durable Power of Attorney using the statutory form is not valid unless it is notarized. A Will requires two witnesses. An Advance Health Care Directive can be either notarized or witnessed, but there were times over the last two years when neither was possible.
Now that we can meet in person again, those estate plans should be revisited, especially holographic Wills. A holographic Will is valid without witnesses if it is entirely handwritten, signed and dated.
The problem with holographic Wills is they often do not contain all the provisions we expect to see in a formal Will. For example, the holographic Will may not name an Executor, or it may only mention particular assets, but not the rest of the assets of the estate. A holographic Will can raise the question whether it is intended to revoke and replace a previous Will, or does it only amend or add to a previous Will? Then, there is the question whether a document, which may not be anything more than a list, was intended as the person's Will at all.
Holographic Wills had their use during pandemic lockdowns, and who among us hasn't written something up before getting on an airplane? But, now that we
can meet again, estate plans should be reviewed with your estate planning attorney to make sure your documents are complete and properly executed.
By Lisa Alexander, Esq.
JAKLE, ALEXANDER & PATTON, LLP
Direct Line: 310-656-4310