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International Wills

I have been practicing law since 1994. I have been extremely focused on the areas of estate and probate law during that time.  Through those years I have a number of clients who have property in other countries. Usually we agree that they will talk with an attorney in the other country.  As you might have guessed many countries have far simpler laws for passing assets, after death, than we do here in California. Some not as easy.  The one, almost uniform, constant I have found is that most countries do not honor our living trusts. That is, the concept of a revocable living trust generally is not one that carries over. There are some exceptions but even then they might prefer, or require, the use of THEIR countries trust and not a US trust. The use of a home country will is fine. As lon
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The Dangers of Do-it-Yourself Wills

I often tell people that it MIGHT work out fine if they do their own will. Of course it might not. I like to tell people that we’ll find out after they die! Well, a recent Florida case emphasizes this sentiment.  The Supreme Court of Florida recently heard the case of James Michael Aldrich v. Laurie Basile, et al. (No. SC11-2147).  In this case the decedent used an “E-Z Legal Form” will. She laid out every item with detail but failed to mention later acquired assets. She inherited a large sum after doing her E-Z Legal Form will and thus the will did not give away these assets. In fact, the laws of Florida gave those later acquired assets away to someone o
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How to properly witness a legalzoom will

I met with a client this week who proudly showed me her old will. It was a fine legal document. It left her assets to her husband and then her kids. It set up a guardian for the kids. It named an executor. It was a fine will. As she pointed out there was a major typo in that one of her kids wasn’t included in part of the disposition paragraph but she believed that may have been her fault in setting it up. She acknowledged that she set it up on legalzoom.com She also proudly showed me the notary page.  What? The notary page? For a will? In California wills are not notarized. The other documents, like powers of attorney, are to be notarized but not the wills.  The notary should have known better but they didn’t.  I am a California notary and it seems to be that every time I have stud
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Revoking a Will in California

There are several ways to revoke a will in California. It’s extremely important that these methods are carefully followed as failure to revoke a will properly means the old will is stiff in effect! 1) WRITE A NEW WILL. It’s really simple to write a new will and in that will state “I revoke all previous wills. This is a very good way to revoke a previous will. One of the keys to this method is that the people you care about know where the new original will is! 2) DESTROY THE OLD WILL. Ripping, burning, or other method of destroying an old will is certainly very clear. However, photocopies of wills can be admissible in probate court so also writing a new will is important in addition to destroying the old will. 3) I REVOKE
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