What Are the Requirements for a Will to Be Valid in California?

Most people do not like to think about the fact that their lives will end one day, but it is important for all adults who own any type of property to establish a legal will while they are still alive. Having a will in place can give you the peace of mind that your property will be distributed according to your wishes after you are no longer here. In order for a will to be valid, there are certain requirements. So, what are the requirements for a will to be valid in California?

There are several ways a will can be made valid in California. One option is the holographic will, which is a handwritten will that you must also sign and date. You do not need witnesses for this will option. Wills, in general, do not need to be notarized in the state, although some people do seek notary services when setting up their wills.

The state also provides the option to use the California Statutory Will form and appoint an executor, which is the person who is responsible for ensuring your wishes are carried out after your passing as outlined in your will.

These options are particularly suitable for people with relatively small or simple estates.

Another option for establishing a legal will in California is to seek guidance from a knowledgeable will and estate planning attorney. No matter the size of your estate, having a lawyer assist with creating your will can ease the process and give you additional reassurance that your will is valid and can be enforced after your death.

If you have an expansive estate or own a significant amount of wealth, hiring an attorney to develop your will is especially advisable. There are more things you might need to consider when developing your will if your estate is complex or significant.

Working with a lawyer to establish your will can also give you, your family, and your loved ones confidence that your will is less likely to be challenged after your passing. A will might be challenged or deemed invalid if someone can prove that you were coerced into writing the will or wrote it when you were not of sound mind. Additionally, if someone believes a will was forged, it could be grounds for invalidating your will.

There are a range of benefits of having a legal will established in California. When people pass without a will in place, they are considered to be intestate. If you are intestate when you pass, the state will determine how your property will be distributed. The state typically distributes an intestate person’s property to their next of kin. This can cause significant disputes between the family members and loved ones of an intestate person.

Settling disputes over the property of a deceased intestate person can be a lengthy and expensive litigation process. By hiring an attorney to set up your will, you can help your family members and your loved ones avoid having to go to court to decide how your property will be divided. Your will can include any vehicles you own, your furniture, jewelry, real property, and money or bank accounts.


Q: Does California Require a Will to Be Notarized?

A: No, it does not require a will to be notarized. You must sign and date your will in order to make it valid. The state does provide the option for holographic wills, which is a will that is handwritten by an individual. You should remember to update your will as you gain or lose the property outlined in your will.

It is also recommended to ensure the executor of your will knows where you keep your will and would be able to easily access this document after your passing.

Q: What Invalidates a Will in California?

A: Something that can invalidate a will is if you do not sign and date it. If you were not of sound mind when you created the will or if someone coerced you into the decisions made about your property in your will, the will could be challenged in court after your passing and determined to be an invalid legal document. Additionally, you must legally own the items of property listed in your will at your time of death in order for the will to be valid.

Q: What Makes a Will Legally Binding?

A: A will becomes legally binding in California if you write out your wishes for what will happen to your property after you die and then sign and date the document. Wills in California do not need to be notarized. Holographic wills, which are handwritten wills, do not need to have witness signatures in order to be considered legally binding.

Having a will gives you the power to decide how your property will be distributed after your death instead of the court deciding for you.

Q: Do All Wills Have to Be Filed With the Court in California?

A: Yes, an individual in possession of a family member or loved one’s will must file the will with the court within 30 days of the decedent’s passing. This is known as delivering the will. By delivering the will to the court, the decedent’s property can be distributed according to their wishes. Seeking guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the requirements for establishing a valid will in the state.

Understand Your Options for Establishing a Valid Will in California

Goebel Estate Planning, PC, is a reputable Temecula will attorney. I have in-depth experience creating wills for clients in Temecula and surrounding areas.

When establishing a will and planning what will happen to your estate after your pass, you want to be sure that you are considering all of your options for making sure your family members and loved ones are cared for when you are no longer here. Trust Goebel Estate Planning, PC, to guide you through every step of the estate planning process in California. Contact Hillary Goebel today to request a consultation with a Temecula will attorney.