Posted by Jeremy Swanson
On June 30, 2016

I Wrote My Own Will: Is It Legally Enforceable?

While California does recognize wills that you create, there is a very important limitation on this: it must be either properly witnessed, or it must be entirely in your own handwriting. This means that if you have filled out a form will (available in stationary stores, online, etc.) you MUST have the will properly witnessed and attested to in proper format, otherwise it will be invalid. You can get around this need by hand-writing your will in entirely your handwriting and signing it. However, this cannot have any typed elements and it cannot be a fill-in-the-blank style will. Every word needs to be handwritten.

It is generally not advisable to execute a will without attorney oversite for precisely these reasons: you don’t want to end up with an unenforceable will or one that can be challenged in court. It is also easy to create conflicts in how you write out your distributions if you are not doing it carefully and thinking of all possibilities that could occur down the road over time. However, if you must handle it on your own: proper attestation clause and witnesses, or completely hand-written is the key to enforceability.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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Read our previous post here