Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo Logo

What is a Holographic Will, and Can I Have One in California?

01/05/2023 | Wills
What Is A Holographic Will And Can I Have One In California

When you hear of the term “holographic will,” it sounds like something you might encounter in a science fiction story. Although the description may seem unusual, a holographic will is not an uncommon phenomenon. You may want to know: What is a holographic will and can I have one in California?

Requirements for a Valid California Will

Under California law, in order for a will to be valid, it must be in writing and:

  • Signed and dated by the testator;
  • In the testator’s name by someone other than the testator in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction; or
  • By a conservator pursuant to a court order to make a will under Section 2580 of the Probate Code.

The testator must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and two witnesses must watch him or her sign the will and sign the will as well.

What is a Holographic Will?

In legal terms, a holographic document is one that is completed in a person’s own handwriting. A holographic will is a will that is handwritten and signed by the testator. California law does not require that a holographic will be witnessed by two people as long as the signature and material provisions of the will are in the testator’s handwriting. The will does not have to be dated, but if there is a doubt as to whether its provisions or that of another will are controlling, an undated holographic may later be held invalid if the date cannot be established.

Should I Make a Holographic Will?

Ideally, your will is going to be made according to the formal procedures established under California law. The statutory requirements are there to provide all of the necessary safeguards to protect your interests. Consequently, when you use a holographic will, there is a greater chance that the document will be subject to contests during probate. However, circumstances can arise when it is not always possible to follow the steps to execute your California will formally. In this type of situation, using a holographic will may be the next suitable alternative.

Take Extra Steps with a Holographic Will

Although the law allows testators to forgo some of the formalities of a regular will when creating a holographic document, it’s a good idea to adhere to the requirements as much as possible. Will contests often involve claims that the testator lacked the mental capacity to sign the document or that another document is newer and therefore controlling. Having two witnesses to a will is almost always a good idea as these individuals will be able to attest to the person’s mental capacity and actions at the time the document was signed. Further, it takes little effort for the testator to date the document, and including this information can save everyone involved the time and expense of litigating the validity of the will.

At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are knowledgeable and experienced California estate planning attorneys with the experience you need to prepare for your future. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.