What is a Valid Will in California?

Probate Code Section 6400 in California pertains to the definition of a valid will.

For a will to be legally valid, it must meet certain criteria:

  • Testamentary Intent: The document must demonstrate that it was intended to be a will, conveying the wishes of the testator (the person making the will) regarding the distribution of their property after their death. Testamentary intent involves the understanding and acknowledgement that the document being created is a will, which will dictate how their property and assets should be distributed upon their death.
  • Capacity: The testator must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of their act, the extent of their property, and who they are leaving their property to. They must also understand the relationship between themselves and their beneficiaries or heirs.
  • Signature: The will must be signed by the testator, or by someone else in the testator’s presence and under their direction. If someone else signs on behalf of the testator, it must be done at the testator’s direction and in their presence.
  • Witnesses: The will must be witnessed by at least two individuals who are at least 18 years old and of sound mind. These witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator.

California Probate Code Section 6111 states that a holographic will is valid as long as it meets the following requirements:

  • Handwritten by the Testator: The will must be entirely handwritten by the testator.
  • Material Provisions in the Testator’s Handwriting: The material provisions, including the distribution of assets and the appointment of an executor, must be written in the testator’s own handwriting.
  • Testator’s Signature: The will must be signed by the testator.

However, it is still recommended to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your holographic will is properly drafted and executed according to the laws and requirements of the state. Formal wills provide greater certainty, clarity, and protection against potential challenges or disputes.

We are here to answer any questions you may have about estate planning, the estate planning process, or your specific situation. Together, we can craft a one-of-a-kind plan to ensure that you and your family are properly protected. Contact us today at 424-242-5021.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. For specific guidance regarding your situation, please contact an attorney.