Handwritten wills, also known as “holographic wills,” are accepted in California. There are certain requirements that must be observed, however, for a handwritten will to be valid in this state. Also, while handwritten wills may be valid in California, you should be aware of the potential pitfalls of having such a will and consider putting a more formally executed will in place instead.
Handwritten Wills in California
To be valid in California, a handwritten will must be entirely in the handwriting of the testator, the person creating the will, and signed by the testator. Anyone who creates a will in California must be at least 18 years of age. The will must be executed while the testator is of sound mind and free from the pressure and influence of someone else. For a handwritten will, the testator must also include the date they wrote the will on the will itself.
As you can see, the requirements for a handwritten will are actually quite basic. There is no need for witnesses in order for a handwritten will to be valid. While creating a handwritten will may be tempting for a number of reasons, the light requirements included, it is generally not recommended to depend on a holographic will. These wills can be difficult to prove legally valid in court. You also run the risk of omitting key provisions in a handwritten will where you would be more likely to include them in a more formally executed, typewritten will.
Consider the extent and importance of the terms that should be included in a will. A will can direct who should inherit what assets from your estate. Furthermore, you can appoint who will serve as personal representative of your estate in your will. This is an important provision as the role of personal representative is critical to the probate process. A will can also include a named guardian for any minor children that may survive the testator. It would be a real tragedy for a person to forget to include a guardian appointment in a handwritten will. It is truly a significant opportunity for the testator to choose the person who will take on the responsibility of raising their children should they be unable to do so themselves.
So, while you may be able to execute a valid holographic will and a holographic will may be verified as legally valid by a court, it is often recommended that a more formal will be executed. After all, a will can contain provisions of extreme importance and significant implications for those you hold closest. Be sure, however, that any will you execute is in accordance with the requirements of California law.
Estate Planning Attorney
Do you want a strong, comprehensive estate plan in place? The trusted estate planning team at BoyesLegal, APC is here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today.