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What constitutes a valid will in California?

There are some common questions that many clients that are looking to prepare their wills ask their estate planning attorney. One question centers around what’s an appropriate age to draft it. Another has to do with how often it needs updating. A third has to do with what it’s going to take for the testator to make sure that it will stand up in a court of law. These are all important questions.

California Probate Code §§6100, et seq. spells out how a testator, or a person drafting a will, must be at least 18-years-old to draft a will in this state lawfully. That same legislation describes how a testator must also have the appropriate testamentary capacity, or soundness of mind, to draft this important legal document. If they don’t have this, then a person’s will may be invalidated.

That same state code also states that while holographic, or handwritten wills, may be valid in California, nuncupative, or oral wills, are not.

The section of California’s probate code mentioned above spells out how witnesses don’t need to be present when an individual handwrites their will but that the testator must sign the document. That same piece of legislation spells out how judges may ask for documentation to verify a testator’s handwriting and prove that they were of testamentary capacity when drafting the document.

Standard, typewritten wills are also acceptable in California. The testator must have two or more witnesses simultaneously watch as they sign their name to the legal document. If this does not happen, then a California judge may invalidate it.

Laws having do with estate planning and administration are ever-changing. You should take time to sit down with an attorney in Fullerton every few years or as you graduate to new stages in your life. You’ll be able to rest assured knowing that everything is going to unfold as you’d initially planned when you pass on if you set aside time to do this regularly.

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