How to Make a Will in California for Free

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

How to Make a Will in California for Free

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

California residents who want to make their final testaments have several options, including free statutory wills which is a simple fill-in-the-blank document authorized by state law. To create a valid statutory will, you must use the form as printed; adding to it or crossing out items can invalidate the document. While this document is not the best option for everyone, it is a free option for California residents with relatively simple estates.

Pen resting on last will and testament

Making a Will in California for Free

Here are the steps you need to take to create a free statutory testament in the state of California.

1. Determine whether the California Statutory Will form meets your needs.

If you are at least 18 years old, a California resident, and of sound mind, you meet the minimum requirements to use the free California Statutory Will form. However, the form is not appropriate in all situations. If you have concerns about estate taxes, own a business, want to create trust provisions for children or other recipients in your testament, or want to disinherit a spouse or one or more children, consider other options for creating your testament. The statutory form was not designed to address these complex estate planning scenarios.

2. Obtain the California Statutory Will form.

The California Statutory Will form is available as a free download from the California State Bar Association website. The PDF form includes answers to frequently asked questions about wills in California that may help you choose between a free form and other methods.

3. Complete the form.

You must use the free California form as is. You cannot cross out items or add sections to the document. Review the document form carefully and follow the instructions to fill in the blanks with your answers. After you fill in your answers, sign the box next to each question.

In addition to identifying who inherits your assets when you die, you can use the statutory form to designate a guardian if you die prematurely and leave one or more minor children. You can also designate a custodian to hold funds for a child until they reach a certain age, up to age 25. Finally, you should identify an executor to administer your estate. The statutory form provides space for you to identify alternates for the guardian, custodian, and executor to act if the first-named person is unable or unwilling to do so.

4. Sign the form and have two witnesses sign it.

To make your free California will legal, sign and date the last page and indicate the city where the signing took place. You also need two adult witnesses who can attest under penalty of perjury that they watched you sign the document, that they believe you had capacity to do so, and that you all signed the will in the presence of one another.

Although you can make a statutory will in California at no cost, consider meeting with a California estate planning attorney to create one tailored to meet your needs. The free California Statutory Will is best for small, simple estates. It's relatively quick and easy, but it's not the right choice for everyone.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.