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California law recognizes four types of wills, a formal attested (witnessed) will, a holographic will, a California statutory will, and a will which complies with the Uniform International Wills Act. In this blog, we will discuss only the first three types of wills.

A formal, attested will requires that the will be handwritten or typed, signed (or the signature acknowledged) by the testator (the person making the will) in the joint presence of at least two disinterested witnesses who understand that the document being witnessed is the testator’s will and who also sign the will during the testator’s lifetime. It is important to note that “disinterested” witnesses must be adults who are NOT beneficiaries in the testator’s will.

California also recognizes holographic wills, which are wills that are handwritten and may be unattested, meaning not witnessed. The most important thing to know about holographic wills is that, in addition to being signed by the testator, this type of will requires that the material provisions be handwritten, not typed, by the testator. Material provisions include those provisions naming the beneficiaries, etc.

A California statutory will is a preprinted form type of will in which the testator fills in the blanks. With this type of will, the testator should fill in all the blanks and then sign the will in the presence of two disinterested witnesses who also sign the will in the testator’s presence. This type of will does not offer as many options as a formal attested will, but it is easy to put into place and can give the testator peace of mind knowing that he or she has put his or her wishes in writing.

It is important to note that each type of will has additional requirements to those set forth above including but not limited to the testator being of legal age, of a sound mind, etc. Anyone over the age of 18 and living in California who has definite ideas regarding where they want their property to go upon their death or guardianship of their children should have a will. Whether that will is very simple or contains more detail is a personal decision based upon the circumstances of the person making the will and should be considered when deciding which type of will to make. A person who wishes to make a will but is unsure of how to proceed should contact Chilina Law Firm or another estate planning law firm to discuss the various options available.

Authored by Karen Chilina and co-authored by Greg Chilina

Chilina Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, is a full-service estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, and real property law firm that provides a wide-range of advising, transactional, and litigation services to its clients from its office located in Atascadero, California. The firm’s attorneys represent individuals and business entities in an assortment of transactional and litigation matters involving estate planning (including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives), probate, trust administration, as well as general business law, contracts, corporate governance, land use, and real property. Chilina Law can be contacted by telephone at (805) 538-5038 or by email atinfo@chilinalaw.comor visit the Chilina Law Firm atwww.chilinalaw.com. Chilina Law Firm is based in Atascadero, California and serves North San Luis Obispo County communities, including Santa Margarita, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles, and San Miguel.

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