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By: Scott Grossman on June 28th, 2017

What Makes a Handwritten Will Valid in California?

What makes a Valid Will?

A valid will is a document a person states how their property should be distributed after having passed away. Documents are valid when they look well written and formalized in most states and societies. These instructions are very important, especially because the author is not present to explain or justify what he or she meant.

In California probate, there are several requirements for a will to be valid:

  • The author (or testator) must be at least 18 years old.
  • The will must be handwritten. After it is handwritten it is then called a holographic will, dated and signed by the testator.
  • A holographic will does not have to be notarized or witnessed but just has a signature.
  • If the testator types a will or has it prepared by someone else, the will must be signed by the testator in the presence of no less than two people, who will also have to sign. The two witnesses must not be beneficiaries of the will.
  • For smaller or simpler estates, the California law provides a standard form in which the testator fills in.

Can You Change a Will Once It Has Been Written?

Authors who die write a will many years beforehand. In the meantime, the estate may have undergone such changes as to leave the will ineffective. This is why a will should be revised on a regular basis. Additional provisions and changes (named codicils) can be added to a will and must take the same form as explained above to be valid. The testator should make sure the codicils clarify or modify the original will and do not contradict its provisions.

The language used in a will must be precise, not just to determine the beneficiaries, but to describe the property to be distributed. For larger and more complex estates, it is highly recommended that you ask for the advice of a probate attorney when making a change to the will.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.