A Will is a written legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with one’s money, minor children, and property after one’s death. In order to be “proved” and admitted to probate for administration it must be properly prepared and correctly executed under California law by an adult who has testamentary capacity and is not acting under undue influence at the time of signing.
There are essentially three types of wills: Attested Wills, Holographic Wills, and Statutory Wills.
Attorneys prepare Attested Wills in typewritten form which is signed in front of two disinterested witnesses who will not receive any benefits under the terms of the Will or Trust. If the signed witness attestation clause includes a statement that the witnesses are signing under penalty of perjury, then the Will is “self-proving.” Based on each client’s individual circumstances, a complete estate plan may include a Stand-Alone Will or a Trust with a “Pour-Over” Will.
Holographic Wills are handwritten wills prepared by a testator in his or her own handwriting. Holographic wills do not have to be signed in front of witnesses or notarized. A holographic Will may be admitted to probate if the testator's handwriting can be proved by the testimony of at least one witness who was personally acquainted with the testator and has personal knowledge of the testator's handwriting. An attorney prepared Attested Will is recommended over a Holographic Will because it is much easier to prove an Attested Will.
A California Statutory Will is a fill-in-the-blank, preprinted will whose form and content is specifically prescribed under California Probate Code §6240. A Statutory Will is a form of attested Will that must be signed in front of two disinterested witnesses who will not receive any benefits under the terms of the Will. It is self-proving because it includes the required declaration under penalty of perjury. A California Statutory Will can be found here. It is very important to carefully follow the instructions for completing the form to ensure your wishes regarding executors and beneficiaries.