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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, April 11, 2019

What is a Holographic Will?

It is certainly a good idea to create and regularly review your will with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney. In it you are able to share your wishes for what you would like to happen after you pass away, including who you wish to inherit which assets. But what happens if you have been unable to visit an attorney to do so? Is there another option to protect your final wishes?

California State Law


Under California State law, you are able to create a holographic will. A holographic will is one that is handwritten without the presence of any official witnesses. Essentially, this means that you are able to write down your desires for whom to make your inheritors, as well as any other wishes, and simply sign it. Holographic wills are extremely easy to create, but why do we even pay for an attorney? Are there any downsides?

Passing Through Probate


Before a will is carried out, it generally has to go through a process known as probate. Probate ensures the validity of the will in order to properly distribute the decedent’s property. When a will is professionally drafted by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney and it has clear instructions, it is much more likely to pass through the probate process more rapidly without any further issue. But since a holographic will does not necessitate a specific format and there are no witnesses there to attest to its signing, the probate court will be much more likely to look into every little thing and find existing problems. It is likely that without an attorney, the process will be longer and more expensive. 

Proving Validity


In order or a will to be valid, it must be executed by an individual who knows what they are doing and is aware of the potential consequences that the will implies. When a holographic will is created, it is not unlikely for an individual who has been left out of it to contest its validity, claiming that it was made without sound conscience or while the decedent was wrongfully influenced. Even if there is absolutely no legitimacy to these claims, there is no real way to disprove these claims and the will is likely to end up in probate for a long time. It could even be years before the dictated inheritors receive anything.

Biddle Law Can Help

Though permitted, holographic wills are often not encouraged due to the difficulty that they can easily cause you and your loved ones, involving time and money. It is always a safer option to consult with an attorney who knows what he or she is doing. If you or a loved one is in need of a will, Biddle Law wants your wishes to be fairly and accurately fulfilled. To learn more about wills, estate planning, and the probate process, or to schedule a consultation, find us online or call us at 650-560-7655 today!

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