EDITOR’S NOTE: Many estate planners are grappling with how to execute documents without an in-person client meeting and yet still have them considered valid. This article helps shed some light on this issue. Thank you to attorney, Susan K., for passing along this fantastic article to us.
Application of the Harmless Error Doctrine in California and Beyond
By Jessica Uzcategui of Sacks, Glazier, Franklin & Lodise, LLP
THE HARMLESS ERROR DOCTRINE
The traditional definition of a “will” is changing. Historically, courts insisted on strict compliance with will formalities. In California, this meant that a will had to be signed by the testator, or in the testator’s name by another person in the testator’s presence and under the testator’s direction. In addition, the will had to be witnessed by at least two persons, each of whom were present at the same time to either witness the testator signing the will or to acknowledge his signature on the will, and each of whom must understand that the instrument they sign is the testator’s will.
Alternatively, California also recognizes holographic wills, which do not need to be witnessed, provided the signature and material provisions of the will are in the testator’s handwriting. It is not necessary for a holographic will to be dated in California, as long as the lack of a date does not create doubt as to whether a different will with inconsistent provisions is controlling.
Finally, California also recognizes a very specific form of statutory will, as provided in Probate Code sections 6223, 6240, and 6241.
Against this backdrop of will formalities, the harmless error doctrine was… READ MORE
Remote Online Notarization Service
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Patricia D. for passing along the information of a service that provides remote online notarization across the country, where available. We have no affiliation or direct experience working with this service (yet), but it came highly recommended from an estate planning attorney practicing and using their services in California.
For more information, click here.
List of State Emergency Measures
EDITOR’S NOTE: The folks over at WealthCounsel, LLC have put together a number of resources for practitioners during this COVID-19 pandemic. One such resource that we thought was helpful is a list of the emergency measures in each state. Thank you, WC!
To view the list of measures for each state, click here.