Palm Springs Law Blog

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

What Is a Holographic Will?

A Will is a legal document that is a valuable tool in comprehensive estate planning. A Will enables you to share what you want to happen to your assets, among other things, after you pass away. That’s why it is always a good idea to review your Will with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney on a regular basis. But what happens if you are unable to get to an attorney and want to update something? A Holographic Will is sometimes the answer.

California state law recognizes Holographic Wills. A Holographic Will is one that is handwritten without the presence of any official witnesses. In other words, you are able to write down your wishes including whom you would like to inherit which asset, and it can be held as legal so long as you sign it. So if Holographic Wills are so easy to create, why don’t we all just create them rather than paying for an attorney?

The Probate Process

In order for a Will to be carried out, it usually must pass through the probate process. This process ensures that the Will is valid prior to executing it and distributing the assets as stated. When you pay a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning and probate attorney to help you draft the Will, which includes clear instructions, it is much more likely that it will pass through probate much faster without much difficulty. However, when someone creates a Holographic Will, which requires no specific format or witnesses to attest to its signing, it is much likelier that the probate process will prove long, costly, and arduous. The probate court is more inclined to look into every little thing to ensure that there are no issues.

Requirements for Validity

For a Holographic Will to be valid the individual who executed it must have understood its consequences and have had the capacity to understand what they were doing. Further, the Holographic Will must be completely in your own handwriting, or on a commercially pre-printed fill-in-form, the Will-maker must intend it to be his or her Will, and it must contain his or her signature. Despite these requirements, individuals who have been left out of a Holographic Will are much more likely to contest its validity. They often argue that the decedent was unjustly influenced or that it was made without sound conscience. In such a case, it is really difficult to disprove these accusations even if there is no legitimacy to the claims. In such a situation the Holographic Will can end up in a lengthy battle, remaining in probate for up to years before heirs receive anything.

Heritage Legal, PC Helps Those in California to Establish an Estate Plan

Although they are permitted, holographic wills are often frowned upon due to the difficulty that they can cause when it comes to proving their legitimacy. This often costs loved ones a lot of unnecessary time, money, and aggravation. That’s why it is always a safer option to involve an experienced attorney.

At Heritage Legal, PC, we understand the importance of protecting the very things that you care about. If you or a loved one is in need of a will, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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