Would a notarized letter be good that states that the house will be left to me if something happens to him and there’s no will? 11 Answers as of October 03, 2012

My son is buying a house and we live in it. He does have a little son, but is not married. We all bought the house together; only it's under his name.

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Law Offices of Michael N. Stafford | Michael N. Stafford
If the notarized letter meets all of the requirements of a testamentary directive it will be honored by the court. However the safer path would be for your son to put you on title with him or to execute a will expressing his desires.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/3/2012
Asset Protection and Elder Law Center
Asset Protection and Elder Law Center | Shadi Alai-Shaffer
No. You need to meet with an attorney and you need to make sure he has a complete estate plan (Trust). If you do not do this you will regret it tremendously.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/3/2012
Law Offices of R. Christine Brown | R. Christine Brown
Your son needs to prepare a holographic will (handwritten will) or have an attorney prepare a Will to reflect his estate planning wishes. If he dies intestate (without a will), the house will go to his son (his next of kin) and if the son is a minor (under 18), his legal court appointed guardian (probably his mother if she is "in the picture" raising him) will have control over the house.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/1/2012
Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
Your son should have a will which specifies who will receive his assets upon his death. As he has a son, his son is his next of kin and sole heir. However, minors cannot hold real property in their names. A guardian of the estate or guardian ad litum would need to be appointed for his son to hold the assets until he reaches the age of 18. The mother of the minor could petition the court and request that she be appointed the guardian of the estate for the purpose of holding the property for the minor. There may be a possibility that the notarized letter may be considered a will, if it meets all the requirements of a will as detailed in the California Probate Code.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/1/2012
Law Office Of Victor Waid
Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
Your son should contact an estate planning attorney and set up a trust to provide for the plan of use and distribution of the house as you desire including the person responsible for the care of your grandson. Otherwise, as things stand now, in the event of an untimely death of your son, the house would go to your grandson, whom is a minor.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/1/2012
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    A notarized letter would not be considered a will and the house would likely need to be probated before title could be transferred to your son's heirs. Since he has a child, usually, when a person buys a house, the best estate planning they can do is have a will and trust drafted so that probate can be avoided. The trust can be drafted to ensure you stay in the home and raise your grandson. The cost for a simple estate plan is minimal compared to the cost and time of probate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Unless the letter would qualify as a holographic will be in his hand and signed by him it would not be good enough to leave you the house. Under the circumstances, you need to document how the house was purchased and each do an estate plan to provide for what will happen to the house in the event of each death.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    That is why the law provides for a will. If a notarized statement was good enough, then there would be no need for wills. You can spend a few dollars for a will or a lot of money in Court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    Your son needs a will. A notarized letter probably would not be sufficient and might ldeal to expensive litigation. If your son dies without a will, everything goes to his minor son. And it will be run by whoever gets appointed guardian, whose purpose will be to benefit the son only, not you. It may be that some of what you want to accomplish can be accomplished by a notarized document or by a written agreement, but even then your son should have a will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
    SmartWills
    SmartWills | Scott Pesetsky
    I suggest you (1) get out the deed and mortgage documents and see who owns what, and (2) have a talk with your son about what should happen when you and him die. A notarized letter only helps if it is accepted by the court as a will. No need to waste effort on a half-baked solution when there are many possible solutions available that work well, such as transfer by title, will, and trust. Figure this out soon, as it could be messy otherwise. Seeing that minor children and real property are involved, I my guess is that everyone will be better served if a trust is involved.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire | Neal M. Rimer
    No, a notarized letter is not necessarily a Will. Your son should see an attorney who prepares wills and trusts and have a properly drawn estate plan completed that will accomplish his goals.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
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