Basic will requirements in California

Many people create a will to specify who will be getting their assets when the pass away. However, if the will does not meet state requirements, a probate court may determine the will to be invalid and therefore, unenforceable.

An estate planning attorney or other professional can help you draft your will to make sure all requirements are met. Here are a few of the most important will requirements in California, as per the California Probate Code.

You must meet age and capacity requirements.

To create a valid will in California, you must be at least 18 years old and possess testamentary capacity at the time the will is created. Testamentary capacity essentially means that:

  • You are ‘of sound mind and memory’ and understand what it means to make a will and the concept of distributing property to your beneficiaries.
  • You do not have a mental disorder that causes delusions or hallucinations.

Your will must be created freely and voluntarily.

California courts will likely dispute the validity of a will created under duress or due to coercion.

The will must be written, signed, and dated.

In California, your will must be typed out or written by hand, and signed and dated by you, the testator, or another person must sign it on your behalf, in your presence and with your permission.

The will must be signed by witnesses.

The will also must be signed by two competent, disinterested witnesses who were present when you signed it.

In addition to meeting these basic requirements, you will also need to make sure your will contains all the necessary information. For example, you will need to name the assets you would like to distribute and assign each asset to a specific beneficiary.