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Can you use a handwritten will?

You’re thinking about writing a will, but you don’t like the idea of typing one up. You worry about cybersecurity and you don’t know who else may access any digital files you create. It seems better to write the will yourself and keep it in a safe place.

Can you do this in California? If you do, is that will going to stand?

The answer is certainly that you can do this. A handwritten will is known as a holographic will and California law does make this type of will legal. It is an option if that’s the route you would like to use.

However, there are some special provisions that go along with these wills. The main issue is that the court has to verify that the will is in fact in your handwriting. This is to prevent someone else — such as an heir — from writing out a will and claiming it was yours.

Is that going to cause any problems? Could a holographic will spark a dispute between your heirs when they’re not sure if it’s your handwriting or not? Do you want to run the risk that the court will not be able to verify your handwriting and so your will won’t stand?

These are important questions to ask. You now know that handwritten wills are legal, but you also have to think about the logistics of using one and what will be best for your family in the long run. Make sure you carefully consider all of the options that you have at your disposal.

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