Is a Handwritten Will Valid in California?

A handwritten will is also known as a “holographic” will in California. Under California Probate Code Section 6111, holographic wills are considered valid even if there are no witnesses. The statute also specifies the following information:

(a) A will is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator.

(b) If a holographic will does not contain an execution date and:

(1) If the omission results in doubt as to whether its provisions or the inconsistent provisions of another will are controlling, the holographic will is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency unless the time of its execution is established to be after the date of execution of the other will.

(2) If it is established that the testator lacked testamentary capacity at any time during which the will might have been executed, the will is invalid unless it is established that it was executed at a time when the testator had testamentary capacity.

(c) Any statement of testamentary intent contained in a holographic will may be set forth either in the testator’s own handwriting or as part of a commercially printed form will.

While many people find it beneficial to draft a handwritten will in estate planning, it is not always the best decision. Handwritten or holographic wills are generally done without the consultation of a skilled attorney and as a result, contain incomplete instructions on how the Testator’s assets are to be distributed. Another pitfall of handwritten wills is that they can often be difficult to interpret.

Unfortunately, it’s important to note that a holographic will usually go through a more complex probate process than normal wills. Confusion over the will can also cause division in the family and create more stress in an already difficult situation.

If you have questions about drafting a will, determining if a will is valid, or distributing assets and inheritance, call an experienced estate planning attorney at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd.. Each of our attorneys carry over 30 years of estate planning experience they can put to use for your situation.

Founder attorney, Christopher E. Botti, is also a Board-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law.

Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. has offices in Ventura, Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Valencia, Bakersfield, and San Luis Obispo, California. Contact Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. at (877) 585-1885 today to learn your legal options.