Conveyance without will

My wife and I have each drawn a will, but we do not have an attorney to consult. We each have rental property and savings in a savings and loan. Are there some papers we should have a bank draw up to be sure the survivor will not pay more than is necessary to the government when one of us passes? H. T.

If your wills were not drawn by an attorney, I strongly recommend that you consult one. A hand-drawn will or holograph must be handwritten by the person drawing the will. Although your state is one of 17 in the United States to recognize holographs, there could still be problems. The expense of having an attorney draw a will is not that great, particularly with legal clinics now available.

Since you live in a community-property statE, you may be thinking of something like a community-property agreement, which turns over all property owned by a couple to the surviving spouse after the first death. With a properly drawn will, a community-property agreement is not necessary and could be a complication. Such an agreement does not replace a will, because it does not provide for contingent succession should both persons die, such as in an accident, at the same time.

A community-property agreement does not change estate or inheritance taxes, and there is nothing the bank can do that would affect how much the survivor pays to the federal and state governments.

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