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Are Handwritten Wills Legal in California?

A handwritten will is also known as a “holographic” will in California. Under California Probate Code Section 6111, a handwritten will may be valid in California if the signature and “material provisions” of the will are in the handwriting of the person making the will. Unlike other typed wills which require witnesses to the signature, a handwritten will does not necessarily need to be witnessed.

But before making a handwritten will, you should know that there are other general requirements for making a will, including but not limited to, the requirement that the person must be over age 18 and they must have “mental capacity”. It is also crucial that the person understands what the “material provisions” of his or her will are, so that they are written in the person’s handwriting as required under the Probate Code.

When making a handwritten will, people often wonder: Does the will need to be notarized? What if there is no date on the will? What if I tell someone to write the will for me and I just sign it? It is important you understand the answers to these questions before preparing a handwritten will for yourself.

You should also keep in mind that a will alone may not avoid the probate court process after death, especially if you own a home.

If you have questions about making a will, determining if a will is valid, avoiding probate, or distributing assets and inheritance, contact our office for a consultation to discuss these important issues.