You can write your own will in California. However, a California will is only valid if it meets specific requirements. According to the 2021 Judicial Council of California Annual Report, 1,115 wills were contested in California in 2021. The best way to avoid having your will contested is to make sure it’s valid.
Why you need a will
Wills are important for people of all income levels. When you have a will, your friends and family know how to distribute your belongings and assets after your death. This makes your final wishes known and can prevent confusion or arguments among your beneficiaries. You’re not legally required to have a will, but having a valid will is beneficial.
There’s more than one way to create a will. But as long as the will is in writing and signed by you and two non-beneficiary witnesses, it meets California’s validity criteria.
You can handwrite your will and sign and date the paper. This is a simple way to create a will, but it’s also easy to contest. Someone could argue the will isn’t in your handwriting or that some of the writing is fake.
The entire will must have your handwriting. No one else can write any part of the will. You must sign the will and date it. A handwritten will in California doesn’t necessarily need witnesses. But a will without witnesses is easier to dispute in court.
At-home will kit
You can purchase a will kit for the state of California. The kit contains legal forms and instructions on how to complete the will.
If you purchase a kit, it must have updated information that reflects current California laws. Also, failing to follow the instructions or making a mistake can invalidate the will.
A California resident can use an online service to create a will. Creating your will online can provide more options than a will kit. But you still need to ensure your online service is valid in your state and has updated legal information.
Your family won’t know how to distribute your assets without a will. It’s also possible that estate laws in your state will determine who gets what. Creating a will generally makes things easier for your loved ones.