In California, when a person writes a will, they are stating what they want done with their property after they are gone. This person – the testator – can specifically mention certain items like bank accounts, a home, automobiles and more.
However, there are often items that they do not refer to in the written will. It can be confusing as to how these properties will be distributed. If the person wrote down what they want done with these properties separate from the will, this can be sufficient for the designated people to receive it.
Tangible property can be distributed to named individuals
According to state law, a will can reference writing separate from it that dictates how property will be addressed after the testator’s death. This does not account for currency or property that was used in business or for a trade.
The writing must meet several conditions. The will must not have been revoked. There must be a date on the writing. It needs to be in the testator’s handwriting or they must have signed it. The writing must clearly describe the property so it is relatively easy to know what is being referred to.
This can be written before or after a will has been executed. If the testator wants to make changes, they can do so with subsequent writings. The value of the tangible property is important as it cannot go beyond $25,000.
When discussing tangible personal property, it is important to remember that it refers to most items including automobiles, jewelry, boats, furniture, household goods and basically anything the person owns.
Understanding estate planning laws can prevent conflict
While it might be easier to list all the properties and who will receive them, it may be untenable to do so. With that, the testator can indicate who will get what in written form and it can be legally binding even if it is not in the will itself.
For these and other potentially confusing areas of estate planning, it is wise to have a grasp on the law and how these cases are handled. This can avoid disputes and make sure the person’s objectives are met.