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  • Carol Highfill

Estate Planning in California During COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Confused about planning your estate in the time of COVID-19?

We have got everything you want. Learn how to plan your estate in COVID-19 pandemic that has

affected millions around the globe.

What is Estate Planning and Why it is important?

Estate planning refers to taking the measures regarding an individual's assets either inherited to

someone or the bequest of the assets to the rightful heirs with legal assistance. Many people do

not consider estate planning much important as they think they have plenty of time ahead. But

this can put you in a risk, estate planning helps one to inherit his/her assets to the heirs.

Life can put you in a situation where maybe you're not able to work on your business, due to

serious injury or mental health break down.

Estate planning basically involves naming the assets such as house, cars, money, pensions,

commercial assets or the custody of minor children if any.

Moreover, estate planning helps to protect the assets and beneficiaries of a deceased or injured


Estate planning includes:

  • The distribution of the assets to the family members or heirs either after one's death or injury according to principles and law.

  • Estate planning includes the ongoing procedures as writing will, finding a lawyer and naming the executor, setup of living trusts, making donations to minimize taxes and at last, making the funeral arrangements.

  • Insurance to provide the entities to the family of the deceased or injured person.

However, If you go through these relatively simple steps to entitle your assets in your trust,

probate can be entirely avoided.

Estate Planning involves the anticipating the assets of an individual to the rightful heirs. If you

don't have an estate plan, later on the probate courts will have to appoint individuals to make

your decisions regarding health and finances, so it's better to finalize a plan before any illness

falls before you so it won't cause any troubles to your family in this time of unpredictability.

Estate Planning in Pandemic:

The time of COVID-19 has been a nightmare for many people, especially those who are affected

by the virus. Estate Planning isn't a complex matter in a normal situation, however COVID-19 has

made it far more difficult. The worse situation of COVID-19 has made people reconsider their

estate plans so that their families or the heirs do not get into any issues.

Due to rapid rise of the pandemic, the concerns for the will drafting and property planning are

increased due to the condition of pandemic. Moreover, people do not have the effectual will

making strategies according to the unsettled current pandemic situation, yet online notarization

platforms are made in many states within a few times to meet the requirements of the people as

soon as possible.

In certain consequences, a will can be drafted remotely. A testator is required to prepare a will

according to his choice and considerations, or the will is also witnessed by the two competent

witnesses required as per law, but the condition is that the witnesses are in direct conversation

to the person making will.

Many states have made the notarization legally online to restrict the contact of person to person

and this is helpful in this regard. In online notarization, the testator after writing his will, can send

it through the internet to the notary for signing it according to law.

Due to the distressing situation of coronavirus, the clients and attorneys are forced to work on

legal documents and the estate planning process from home.

The rise in mortality rate is making the minds of people flooded with the fearful thoughts that a

powerful plan must be there to make their future secure in the unprecedented time. Government

has restricted in person contacts which causes major issues in the process of notarizing the


Is online estate planning legitimate?

Online estate planning is legitimate as long as you ensure they are rigidly in accordance with

state laws. The main reason to make the estate planning online is that it includes all the aspects

along with validity and authenticity. Will and estate planning companies hire licensed, legal

attorneys and high professionals to genuinely regard their estate planning documents so that

each is irrevocable. Although some of these companies have products that acquiesce with your

state laws, making it authorized that your final document will carry the same status as one that's

created by an attorney. It is to assure that the online wills are signed in front of at least two

witnesses. The print is fine enough to make sure it's amenable in your state. That’s what makes

your documents legitimate.

Notarization in online estate planning:

Witnessing a trust is not compulsory in law of California, however it must be notarized by a

public notary. As remote notarization is not legal in California, so we highly recommend

physically getting your trust and other documents notarized but don't ignore the precautionary


Having a will and deciding who you are going to consider as inherit for your assets is very

essential for estate planning.

What You Require:

In the time of COVID-19, it's obvious to anyone to think about their families to secure their future.

However, when everyone is supposed to stay at home, it's not a good idea to conduct in person

interactions. Some states have permitted us to virtually make a will and notarize the

document, but still it's a risk to make an estate plan remotely, however, the law of California

doesn't allow online notarization, but in an emergency situation it can take place under the

California Civil Code section 1189(b).

Before making up a call, make sure that the required documents are available with you.

  • Will: A will is a legal document which states the inheritance of property of an individual person. In California, a will must be signed by 2 disinterested witnesses, but in this situation it's exhausting to find one however, an attorney can help you with drafting the will. Make sure that you have the signed will, to prevent you from unnecessary troubles.

  • Durable power of attorney for finances: it is a legal document which states who will make your financial decisions when you are not able to do it yourself. Anyone who is 18 or older can benefit from durable power of attorney for finances if he or she possesses credit cards, bank accounts, or any kind of property. This person is called an attorney or agent.

  • Living will is a written document which states the desire relating to future health treatments of an individual when he is not able to do so himself. He officially authorizes a person who is responsible for making the future treatment decisions of his health which depends on the situation. Afterwards, the authorized person will be completely responsible for your health decisions.

  • Health care durable power of attorney allows you to nominate a person who will be later responsible for making your health regarding decisions if you are not able to make them yourself. That person will decide according to your health condition. Carefully select the person who can wisely handle the situation.

  • HIPAA Authorization is a permission granted from an individual person which allows the entity to use or divulge your health information, which otherwise is not allowed by HIPAA policy.

After making sure that the documents are available, you can step ahead.

Should you hire an attorney?

It depends on your preferences, although you can create the estate documents yourself as long

as they are authentic, but it's exhausting and time taking. Finding disinterested witnesses,

printing documents, getting them notarized is difficult for one person. Hiring an attorney is a

much better option as it will save your time, give you peace of mind and plan the documents

wisely. However, if you are looking for an affordable way, planning the estate yourself might

work for you, but we recommend consulting a professional attorney to get your task done more


Does California permit Online Estate Planning?

California's estate planning formalities create diverse challenges.

In estate planning, the face to face interactions are a must of course, yet in the time of

pandemic the meeting of the clients and lawyers, attorneys can be shifted to the digital


The main issue emerges when it comes to the signing of a document. Under California Probate

code section 6110, the testator and two witnesses must be physically present while signing a


However, the trust document does not require the witnesses in California.

Moreover, the notarization again becomes an obstacle in online estate planning in California as

according to law, notaries must be assured of the valid signatures in journals, and this cannot

be done while observing the distancing.

In short, the formalities regarding online estate planning cannot be completely achieved in

California and that may be due to the fact of protection against frauds.

This for sure puts the attorneys and lawyers in difficulty, but this is only the way to pursue.

If you want to learn more or have any queries, please contact us.

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