Jun 18, 2016 - 03:33 PM
I think you know that you really should see a lawyer that specializes in probates. Tell them what you want to happen and let them draw up the appropriate papers. It is the best way to insure that what you wanted to happen, actually happens.
Write a hand drawn will? Fill out a form online? Transfer all your assets before you die? Write a will or make a trust? There are so many, many implications that you need good guidance from someone who really knows what they are doing.
Do it wrong and your heirs can perhaps wait years (and pay a lot of legal & court fees) for the estate to be finally settled and they get their check.
Do it wrong and your heirs might begin fighting and burn up all the assets with needless court challenges.
Do it wrong and you might reset the 'cost basis' for your house and when your heirs finally do sell, they might end up owing thousands of dollars in needless taxes.
The answer to your original question is that a simple unrecorded will is valid in California (but not easy to get through probate) but because you are asking that question I wonder if there are other issues that you have not considered.
YES! Lawyers do cost, but good estate planning with a qualified lawyer, is well worth it. Unless the person in question literally has no assets then it doesnt really mater. . . .