Proper estate planning requires a will. While many people in California use software, computers and lawyers to write a will, some wills are handwritten. Any handwritten will is called a holographic will. Before you create a holographic will to plan your estate, be aware of a few facts about these types of wills that may affect their legitimacy.
Judges will determine the purpose of the document
If you write a holographic will and it enters probate court, one of the first things the judge will look for is evidence that the document was intended to be a will. To verify its purpose as a will, the court will determine whether you were a legal adult at the time the will was written and if you were of sound mind.
Courts must verify the handwriting
When you are considering estate planning with a holographic will, consider that the court must be able to verify that you wrote it. This requires verification that the handwriting belongs to you.
Witnesses may validate your will
Although the state of California does not require witnesses for wills, asking witnesses to be present when you write your will is a smart idea. If there are any doubts as to whether you actually wrote the will, were in sound mind, or intended the document to be part of your estate planning, your witnesses can testify in probate court on your behalf. You can choose anyone to be a witness as long as they are adults and do not have an interest in your will. Your choices for witnesses could include:
• Friends or relatives without inheritances
Choosing a holographic will involves risk
While holographic wills are legal in the state of California, they are more likely than other wills to be deemed invalid. If you truly want your wishes to be taken into account after your death, a formal typed will may provide greater assurance.