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Is a holographic will valid in California?

California law recognizes the validity of holographic wills for any residents of the state. A holographic will is a handwritten document in which the testator describes their preferred disposition of the estate after their passing. So long as the will follows the specific previsions of the law, the court will consider it to be valid. However, it may sometimes be easier to invalidate a holographic will than a regular will.

The state of California requires that a holographic will be written out entirely by hand by the person making the bequest. The inclusion of even one typed section into the document may be grounds to challenge the will, unless there were at least two people who witnessed the signing.

There is no requirement to have the holographic will notarized. If the holographic will is not dated, and another will is found that has a proper note indicating when it was signed, then the holographic will may be invalidated until the precise moment of its creation can be proven. A valid holographic will is held to be the equal of any other type of will under California law, but that does not affect questions of the capacity of the testator at the time of signing. Challenges to the will based on the mental health of the testator or the possibility of duress may still be mounted as usual.

The assistance of an attorney can be of benefit to those who wish to plan for the disposition of their estate. An attorney will likely have greater familiarity with the precise details of estate planning, and counsel may help to prevent challenges to a will or its execution. Even a holographic will may benefit from review and possible revision by an attorney.

Source: CA Code, “Probate Code Section 6110-6113“, December 07, 2014

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