No attorney can over emphasize the importance of estate planning in California, but the fact is that many people do not have their assets accounted for in a plan. As the North Bay Business Journal notes, a will is not enough. Without an estate plan, assets that are not in a trust automatically end up in probate, which is a legal process used to decide who the heirs are and how much they inherit after taking debts into account.

When the assets of a family member end up in probate, the legal process can be complicated and drawn out. Many issues can arise while dealing with the estate of a deceased relative. California Lawyer details a rule in the probate code meant to protect elderly citizens from undue influence from a caretaker.

In fact, if an elderly relative has left a financial gift to a caretaker, the law requires that an independent review certificate be acquired in order for the gift to be valid. If the will was drafted without this certificate of review, California Lawyer notes that the gift indicated in the will is “presumptively void,” or not valid in the eyes of the law. Caretakers are often entrusted with taking care of a relative in their last days, but this statute was put in place to ensure that gifts to caretakers are intentional and decided without influence. An independent review ensures that a caretaker cannot take advantage of their charge, and this is important to check for if there are any questions about the validity of a gift.