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Holographic wills are valid in California

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2021 | estate planning | 0 comments

A holographic will is a last will and testament that is written in the testator’s own handwriting. A will bearing the testator’s handwriting in the blank spaces of a pre-printed form is also a holographic will. This kind of document is valid in California, and the legal requirements are not as strict as they are for typewritten wills. A typewritten will must be dated and witnessed by two people in California, but a holographic will is valid even if it has no date and was not witnessed. However, a holographic will only becomes valid after the handwriting and signature are verified to be the testator’s.

Holographic will requirements

For a holographic will to be valid, it must be clear that the testator intended the document to be their last will and testament. Testamentary capacity also has to be established, which means that the testator must have been of sound mind when they wrote the will. While a holographic will is valid even if it is not dated, anyone writing one would be wise to include a date. This is because a probate court may follow the provisions of a dated typewritten will if the date of a holographic will cannot be established.

Will written on a tractor

A famous estate planning story about a holographic will involved a Canadian farmer who died in 1948 after an accident left him pinned beneath his tractor. When the farmer realized that help was probably not going to arrive in time to save him, he used a pocket knife to scratch a message on the tractor’s fender, stating that he wished to leave all of his possessions to his wife.

Avoiding probate disputes

If you are thinking about writing a holographic will, an attorney with estate planning experience would likely advise you to add a date and sign the document in front of witnesses. While this may not be necessary, it could help prevent disputes when the will is probated. An attorney may also recommend that you draft a typewritten will instead as it would eliminate the need to verify your handwriting and signature during probate.