Are Holographic Wills Legal in California?

By Lynnette Holt

Signatures of witnesses are usually required for a valid will. A valid holographic will does not require witnesses. To prepare a holographic will, the testator writes his wishes in his own handwriting. California Probate Code Section 6111 sets out the law for holographic wills.

Signatures of witnesses are usually required for a valid will. A valid holographic will does not require witnesses. To prepare a holographic will, the testator writes his wishes in his own handwriting. California Probate Code Section 6111 sets out the law for holographic wills.

Handwritten

In order to create a valid holographic will in California, a testator writes the material portions of the will in her own handwriting. Her signature must also be present on the will. A testator is not required to have witnesses to her signature when the will is written and signed in her own handwriting.

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Date of Execution

For a valid holographic will, the court must be able to determine the date of execution. The testator should include the date of execution when preparing the holographic will. Dates of execution matter with wills because the most recent will is usually the legally valid one.

Distribution of Assets

Like all wills, a holographic will distributes the assets of the testator. To be considered valid by a California probate court, the will must be legible. Assets not distributed by the holographic will may be distributed according to state law.

Testamentary Capacity

To write a valid holographic will, a testator must have testamentary capacity. The testator must know what his assets are and who his relatives are. An exact understanding of property is not required, but the testator must know generally what he owns and understand that he is determining where his assets will go after his death. Testamentary capacity is required for all wills.

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References

Related articles

Verifying Authenticity of a Last Will & Testament

The maker of a will, commonly known as the "testator," must draft the will in accordance with the state's probate code for it to be held as valid. Generally, these formalities exist so that a probate court can verify the authenticity of the will. When a will is admitted to probate court, the court examines the will to make sure it was made in compliance with state law.

Handwritten Last Will & Testaments

Each state has its own laws on what constitutes a valid last will and testament. In most states, a will must be in writing, but whether it is typed or handwritten generally doesn't matter if the will meets all the other requirements for validity in the state. About half of states, however, recognize a special type of handwritten will.

Types of Last Will & Testaments

Testators can use various types of wills to establish an estate plan. The most prevalent type is the written will, accepted in every state. However, not all testators have the opportunity to execute a written will that complies with statutory guidelines prior to passing, so state law began to recognize additional formats under certain circumstances. Not all types of wills are recognized in every state, so you should consult with an attorney before establishing any type of will.

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