What Are the Different Types of Wills?

Our San Francisco Probate Litigation Attorney Discusses the Validity of Handwritten Wills

Testamentary wills in California do not have to be formal, standard wills with two witnesses at an attorney’s office. In this video, Oakland probate litigation lawyer Charles Triay explains that holographic wills, or handwritten wills, may be valid in California. If your loved one passed away and you believe the will is defective or if you have a question about a holographic will, contact our office to learn about the types of cases we handle.

Video Transcription

Hi, I’m Charles Triay. I want to talk for just a minute about types of wills. California recognizes two types of wills. The formal will that we’re all familiar with which is typed and signed and witnessed. In California there are supposed to be two witnesses. Both witnesses are all supposed to be there at the same time and everyone sign at the same time. That’s the standard will.

Unknown to a lot of people California also recognizer handwritten wills. Technically those are called holographic wills. The main requirement is that they be entirely in the handwriting of the person making the will. I cannot write a handwritten will for you and have you sign it. You have to write it all out yourself. Those don’t have to have any witnesses. You end up with some documents that don’t look like wills, such as a letter or just a memo, that somebody wrote on a piece of paper that can act as a valid will as long as it makes it clear that this is what it’s intended to be.

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