Focused And Personalized Attention
Concerning Your Estate Planning Needs

What are California’s requirements for a valid will?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Creating an estate plan is a vital task for adults. For those who live in California, writing out a will is one of the cornerstones of this plan. In order for it to be legally valid and enforceable, a will must meet the standards set by the state. 

There are a few things to consider if you’re ready to create your will. At a minimum, your will must meet these requirements:

Legal age and sound mind

In California, for a will to be considered valid, the person creating the will must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Being of sound mind means you understand the nature of the will, know the extent of your property and recognize the identities of the people who are the natural beneficiaries of the estate.

Written document

Verbal wills aren’t valid in California. While California recognizes formal wills and holographic wills, each has specific requirements. Formal wills, which are typed wills, need to adhere to formal requirements regarding witnesses and signatures. Holographic wills must be in your handwriting and signed by you but don’t necessarily require witnesses.


A typed will be witnessed by at least two individuals who are present at the same time, observe you signing the will or your acknowledgment of the signature on the will, and understand that the document they are signing is your will. Witnesses to a will shouldn’t stand to inherit anything under the will or there may be challenges in court.

No requirement for notarization

California doesn’t require a will to be notarized to be considered valid. However, attaching a self-proving affidavit, a notarized document attesting to the validity of the will and the proper execution procedures can simplify and expedite the probate process.

Your will and other estate plan components must reflect your own wishes without any undue influence. Working with someone familiar with your wishes and state laws may help you to ensure everything is in order. 


Let’s Do This Together.

FindLaw Network