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How to Prove a Will Is Valid in California


The validity of a will can come into question after a loved one dies. While there can be various legitimate reasons to question whether a will is valid, at times, relatives of a decedent may challenge or contest a will out of bitterness or greed.

If you find yourself in a position where you need to prove that a will is, in fact, valid, keep reading to find out what you need to do.

Proving a Will

The steps that need to be taken to establish that a will is valid will depend on the type of will that has been developed by the willmaker or testator. Specifically, the following needs to be done for the different types of wills in California:

  • Attested or witnessed wills (which are wills that are typed, prepared by an attorney, and signed in front of at least two witnesses) are considered to be “self-proving” documents so long as the witnesses signed an attestation clause (under the penalty of perjury). Self-proving will not require additional testimony to establish its validity and can, therefore, be submitted to the probate court without further action.
  • Holographic wills (which are wills that have been written by hand by the testator) can be proven by verifying that the handwriting is, in fact, the writing of the testator. In particular, this generally requires testimony from someone who was personally acquainted with the testator and who knows the testator’s handwriting.
  • Statutory wills (which are pre-printed will forms that a testator or his representative has filled in the blanks for) may not require additional proof, so long as they were developed in accordance with California laws and they were signed in front of at least two witnesses (who are not designated as beneficiaries in the will).

Want to Prevent a Will Contest?

If you are developing a will now and want to preclude any contests or disputes regarding the validity of the will later, it’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. One option can be to include a “no contest” clause in your will, which could stipulate that anyone who raises an unsuccessful contest to the will will not be eligible to be a beneficiary.

There can be other estate planning options, however, depending on your wishes and needs, so contact a Santa Clarita estate lawyer at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman today to find out more about your options.

Contact a San Fernando & Santa Clarita Estate Lawyer at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman

To speak with a San Fernando & Santa Clarita estate lawyer at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman and find out more about your options, call us today at (818) 892-7093 or fill out the contact form on this page.

From our offices based in North Hills, we provide the highest quality legal services to our clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, and the greater Los Angeles area.

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