Protecting Estates.
Protecting Legacies.

Are handwritten wills valid in California?

A will is an essential estate planning document that ensures that a person’s property passes on to heirs and beneficiaries as he or she intended. Typically a will is a typewritten document that at least two people must witness and sign.

However, in some cases, an individual may not have time to prepare a traditional will, or he or she may prefer to draft a more personal document. As in some other states, in California, a handwritten or holographic will may be valid if it meets certain basic requirements.

When is a holographic will valid?

The primary requirements for a holographic will are that the document is in the testator’s handwriting and includes his or her signature. It should also be clear that the author intended the document to be a last will and testament at the time that he or she wrote and signed it.

What issues may arise with a holographic will?

California law does not require a handwritten will to include the date of execution. However, a holographic will may not prove valid if there is no date and the document’s instructions conflict with another existing will.

A will contest may also arise if there is suspicion of undue influence by another party or if the testator was mentally incapacitated at the time he or she executed the document.

Whatever the reason for creating a handwritten will, it is a good idea to avoid potential issues by obtaining two or more witness signatures, including the date of execution and making sure to legally revoke any previous wills.

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