The basics of holographic wills

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2021 | Estate Planning |

A holographic will is one that the testator writes themselves by hand. California residents should understand that while it’s legal to write a will this way, it’s not like other wills. For example, California state law requires that wills be signed in the presence of two witnesses, but holographic wills don’t have to be witnessed. There are several other important things to know about a handwritten will.

Pros and cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to writing a holographic will. Like all wills, it lays out the testator’s desires for what will happen after their death. Every adult, especially parents, should have a will. This document lets you name an executor, specify a guardian for any minor children and leave instructions about distributing your property.

Writing a will with a lawyer may help you do all of this in a way that the court will readily understand and accept. A lawyer may provide advice about what language to include and avoid. They might advise you about how to choose an executor the court will approve of. Your lawyer will file the document, so there’s a record of it.

By contrast, a holographic will is usually written by a person who doesn’t understand much about court proceedings. While the holographic will lets a person say exactly what they want as their last wishes, they may not know how to do that in a way that the court will be able to approve.

The impact of probate

A holographic will may require some additional steps in probate court. For example, someone who knows you well may need to testify that the handwriting is yours. Sometimes, a handwriting expert may actually be called in as a witness.

Probate is already stressful and time-consuming. Writing a holographic will can add to the complications, so it may not be the best choice for you.