A will, or “last will and testament,” is a document that takes effect at death and dictates where your property will go when you are gone. It is also where you name a guardian for your minor children and an executor to carry out your wishes. The person who executes a will is the “testator.”
Ordinarily, a will is a typed document, commonly prepared by an attorney after an interview with the testator, and signed in front of two witnesses. However, if one's death is imminent, it may not be possible to execute a will according to the ordinary legal formalities. For this reason, California recognizes the validity of handwritten, or “holographic,” wills.
What are the requirements for a holographic will?
These are the rules for a holographic will in California:
- It must be signed by the testator
- The material provisions must be handwritten by the testator
- It does not have to be dated
- It does not have to be witnessed
- The statement of testamentary intent can be printed or written by the testator
Although it does not have to be dated, it should be dated, so that if there are multiple wills, there will be no doubt about which one is most recent. Also, obviously, the testator must intend to create a will and have legal capacity to execute the will.
Whether a particular provision is material depends on the circumstances. If in doubt, it should be handwritten.
Is a holographic will a good idea?
No. This should only be used if you are unable to execute a formal will.
Handwriting your will should only be used as a last resort. If possible, you should have a formal will, dated and witnessed, and preferably prepared by an attorney. Depending on your assets, your estate may still have to go through probate, even with a formal will. If so, you will need a living trust.
Helix Law Firm can help with estate planning
If you are interested in executing a will, so that your wishes will be carried out after you die, we can help. If the value of your property is over $150,000, you may need a living trust. We can look at all your assets and determine what will be best for your situation.
If you're interested in learning more, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.