Handwritten wills are not as common as they once were, but they are still executed successfully. We are often alerted to things we knew about but had forgotten via the news and current events. A former Bond Girl, Tanya Roberts, died recently and left her estate to her common-law partner and her pets. Her estate was valued at over $3 million. This story would likely have not been as newsworthy had Ms. Roberts’ handwritten will been ordinary, but she completely disinherited her family in her holographic last testament. Until the point where Ms. Roberts’ disinherited her family, nothing in this story sounded odd or particularly problematic.
The fact she cut her family out of her estate and left everything to her common-law partner and pets made the fact her will was handwritten more suspect or at the very least interesting. Upon Ms. Roberts’ death, her partner filed the document with the court in Los Angeles to record its contents. Ms. Roberts stared in the Bond Series film, “A View to a Kill.” She left behind a sister and other close family members. Once her death was publicized, there were questions about the validity of her will. Still, Ms. Roberts had the foresight to have the holographic will verified after she penned it.
In California, holographic wills are only legal when validated. To be validated, they must meet specific qualifying standards. The first stipulation is that the document must be legible, which can be a problem with handwritten and signed legal documents. Additional requirements require proof the handwritten last testament was intended to serve as a will and that the testator, the deceased, had the mental capacity to execute a legal document.
According to California Probate Code §6111:
CHAPTER 2. Execution of Wills [6110 – 6113] (Chapter 2 enacted by Stats. 1990, Ch. 79.) 6111.
(b) If a holographic will does not contain a statement as to the date of its execution and:
(c) Any statement of testamentary intent contained in a holographic will may be set forth either in the testator’s own handwriting or as part of a commercially printed form will.
(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 710, Sec. 13. Operative July 1, 1991, by Sec. 48 of Ch. 710.)
At Cianci Law, PC, our clients have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have an estate plan in place that clearly outlines their wishes for the future. We provide services to residents across the Greater Sacramento area. While you can certainly execute a holographic will, why take that chance?
Call us today at (916) 797-1575 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form to make an appointment with one of our estate planning lawyers.
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