Hayward, CA asked in Probate for California

Q: Can I just do a notorized letter instead of a will in leaving my house to my child and the deed is in my name?

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4 Lawyer Answers
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Mill Valley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: No, you can not. If you do not want to use a will or trust, you can use a deed. All of these methods require strict adherence to the correct form, although they are not necessarily complicated.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • San Jose, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I agree with Gerald. If you don't want to use a formal Will (which requires the signatures of at least two disinterested witnesses) or a revocable living Trust, consider using a holographic Will (which doesn't require the signatures of any witnesses but does require that the entire Will be in your own handwriting and signed and dated by you) or a transfer on death (TOD) deed (in which you name your death beneficiary on the face of the deed).

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

David Ostrove
David Ostrove
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: No. A notarized letter is not a will. A will needs two witnesses. Having a will notarized means nothing, as a matter of law.

You could do a Trust and leave the house without probate to your child. Sign and have it acknowledged by a notary. It could be in the form of a letter as long as you make it clear that you intend to create a trust and that you state that you intend to transfer the house to a trustee, which may be yourself, for the benefit of your child. List the legal description of the house in the trust-letter and everything else that you intend to give to your child. Sign in the presence of a Notary. Attach a list of everything which you intend to pass to your child by the trust-letter. Use "Trust" language in the Trust-Letter. Or, just deed the property to your child. Deed needs to be signed and acknowledged by a Notary.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

John B. Palley
John B. Palley
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Roseville, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I agree with that others your proposed document would most likely not work. A holographic will or transfer on death feed is better. However, it should be pointed out there can be pitfalls with those. Talking to an experienced estate planning attorney is best. Good luck.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

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