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Basic Requirements for California Wills: An Overview


Every state has its own requirements for what constitutes a valid will, and understanding the basics is an essential first step when you are ready to move forward with the estate planning process.

California Wills: The Fundamental Requirements

  • Age requirements – To make a will in California, the testator (i.e., the will-maker) must be at least 18 years old.
  • Form – California wills must be in a written form. This can include being typed or handwritten (and handwritten wills are often referred to as holographic wills). It’s important to note that, for holographic wills to be valid, they must have been written by the testator (i.e., be in the handwriting of the will-maker).
  • Authorizing the document – To put the will into effect in California, it must be signed (authorized) by the testator. Alternatively, it’s also possible for some other person to sign the will on behalf of a testator, in the testator’s presence and at his direction, in the event he cannot authorize the will on his own (due to, for instance, a medical condition/physical limitation). Additionally, a conservator can sign a will on behalf of a party who has been placed under conservatorship when the court orders conservators to take such steps.
  • Witnesses to the authorization – California will also have to be signed by a minimum of two other persons who are (1) present at the same time as the will is signed by the testator (or other designated party) and who witnessed the testator’s signing of the will (or his authorization for the will to be signed by another party) and who (2) are aware that they are signing the testator’s will.
  • The capacity of the testator – California wills are only valid if the testator was of sound mind at the time of devising and signing the will. In other words, the testator has to be capable of reasoning, understand that he is devising/signing a will, and be able to make decisions on his own behalf.

When these requirements are not met, there may be grounds to contest the validity of a will. Should questionable will lead to will contests, the ensuing probate process can be that much more contentious, as well as expensive to resolve.

San Fernando & Santa Clarita Wills Attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman

Do you need help devising or updating a will – or dealing with any estate planning matters? If so, it’s time to contact the trusted San Fernando & Santa Clarita wills attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman. Since 1980, our San Fernando wills attorney has been dedicated to providing his clients with personalized, highly responsive service, as well as superior representation for their important legal matters.

When people make the smart choice to move forward with San Fernando & Santa Clarita Wills Attorney Darrell C. Harriman, they can be assured that they will have an experienced, skilled lawyer listening and responding to their legal concerns and helping them devise the best estate planning solutions for them.

Contact Us Today

Let’s talk about your case and legal needs today. You can contact our firm by calling (818) 892-7093 or by filling 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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