Are Holographic Wills Legal In California?
Holographic wills are often drafted in situations where a person knows they are about to die, and they have no one around to help them type or witness the document. Some states do not recognize such wills, whereas others do. California is one of the states that recognizes holographic wills. However, it is essential to note that a holographic will is only valid in California if it meets specific requirements.
What California Defines as a Holographic Will
In California, a holographic will is one whose material provisions have been written in a testator’s handwriting and one that has been hand-signed by a testator and in their handwriting.
What Makes a Holographic Will Valid in California?
A holographic will is valid if;
- Material provisions in the will are written in the testator’s handwriting.
- The testator had testamentary capacity at the time they were drafting the will.
- The signature on the holographic will belongs to the testator and is in the testator’s handwriting.
- It is evident that the person who drafted the holographic wanted it to serve as their will.
While it is entirely acceptable for a testator to fill in blanks when writing a holographic will, the answers written in the blank spaces should be in the testator’s handwriting.
According to the law, a holographic will is invalid if a testator is found to have lacked testamentary capacity during the time of the execution of their will.
So, what exactly does testamentary capacity mean? Testamentary capacity is a legal term used when describing an individual with the mental and legal capability to create or alter a will. When a person has testamentary capacity, they are basically of sound mind and can make informed decisions independently.
Witnesses and Dates
A holographic will does not have to be witnessed or dated, but it would be best for you to have your handwritten will witnessed by two people and correctly dated.
Courts often challenge holographic wills because such wills are usually written and signed in the absence of witnesses. Therefore, witnesses can be of great help in the event that a holographic will gets challenged. Witnesses can help prove that you wrote the will and had testamentary capacity throughout the time when you were making your will or when the will was being executed. On the other hand, dating your holographic will can help the probate court determine which of your wills is recent if more than one will is located.
Should You Write a Holographic Will?
As already mentioned, people in imminent danger of death are often the ones who make holographic wills. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, making such a will would be a wise thing to do. However, if you are thinking of creating a will and are in no imminent danger of death, it would be best to allow an attorney to help. Even though you can make a legal will without involving an attorney, keep in mind that a skilled attorney can help you ensure you do things correctly and avoid creating an invalid will.
Reach Out to The Probate Guy for Help
If you need help creating, altering, revoking, challenging, or probating a will, contact skilled California probate attorney Robert L. Cohen of The Probate Guy today to schedule a consultation.