Free California Last Will and Testament Form

A will is a legal document containing the directions of a person (testator) concerning their property and assets in case of death, created in the manner prescribed by law.

As a precaution, it’s highly recommended to create a last will. Even when you don’t have a lot of assets, the last will could actually help your family situation and prove to be critical to those you love upon your passing.

In this article, we offer a free downloadable California last will and testament form and answers to certain common doubts you could have concerning this particular document.


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California Last Will Laws and Requirements

Requirements State laws
Statutes Division 6 – Wills and Intestate Succession
Signing requirement Two witnesses CHAPTER 2. Execution of Will. 6111
Age of testator 18 and older CHAPTER 1. General Provisions. 6100
Age of witnesses CHAPTER 2. Execution of Wills. 6112
Self-proving wills Allowed ARTICLE 2. Proof of Will. 8220
Handwritten wills Recognized if meeting certain conditions CHAPTER 2. Execution of Wills. 6111
Oral wills Not recognized CHAPTER 2. Execution of Wills. 6111
Holographic wills Recognized if meeting certain conditions CHAPTER 2. Execution of Will. 6111

How to Create a California Last Will

1. Think about your possibilities. Prior to beginning, it is advisable to decide if you’d like to use the help of a lawyer or prepare the whole document on your own. If you want to prepare the last will by yourself, select the type you’ll use: a solely handwritten, holographic will, or maybe a free last will and testament form.

2. Indicate your information. Establish the testator and their particulars: full legal name and address (city, county, and state). Go over the remaining part of the section, including the details you’ve written along with the “Expenses and Taxes” subsection.
Section for indicating details of California last will template

3. Establish the executor (or executrix). The next step is to choose the executor of your last will and testament, the person liable for ensuring every little thing you write in this document comes true. To achieve that, you have to enter the executor’s full legal name, along with their residential information (city, county, and state). Make sure you appoint somebody who lives in the same state as you do. If you don’t, there will be more red tape and avoidable hassle involved in the procedure because of different special regulations every state has relating to out-of-state executors. Although it is not required, it might be wise to choose an additional person to act as an executor in the event the first one is unwilling or incapable of executing your last will and testament.
Executor choosing part of last will document for California

4. Determine the guardian (optional). It is possible to choose a trusted person as a guardian in case you have underage or dependent children that need to be taken care of. If there are no directions regarding what person should take care of your kids, the guardian will be chosen by the court.
Appointing the guardian section of California will and testament template

5. Specify your beneficiaries. Now you establish those who will inherit your property. Write their full names, places of residence, and your relationship to them (spouse, child, friend).

6. Allocate possessions. If you’ve got an asset allocation in mind that is not even, you’ll be able to describe it within this section. Assets might include cash, stocks, realty, company control, money for arrearage, as well as any material items of financial value you own. Please notice that there are things that cannot be distributed in your last will and testament, for instance, life insurance and joint and living will assets.
Section for specifying beneficiaries and allocating assets of last will document for California

7. Ask witnesses to sign the document. According to California law, for a last will and testament to be considered valid, it needs to be signed by two witnesses. Only someone who isn’t your beneficiary and is of 18 years or more could be selected as a witness. Consider choosing witnesses who are younger than you so that they’ll be around in the event the will is contested in court or if any other issue occurs. At this point, you (as well as your two witnesses) have to sign the will after filling in your full legal addresses and names. Do not forget to examine every section carefully prior to concluding the matter.
Witnesses signing section of California last will

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary difference between 'Power of Attorney' and 'Executor'?

The principal difference between the two documents is that once you depart this life, the person you designate via power of attorney loses their official authority to handle any matters for you.

Among many power of attorney types, the two following ones are considered main:

  • General power of attorney – lets you appoint a proxy (agent) who’ll have the ability to take care of your monetary and legal affairs instead of you. However, this document will become annulled in case the principal dies or becomes incapacitated.
  • Durable power of attorney – grants the identical authority to the proxy as the previous type but continues to be valid even if the person on behalf of whom the agent acts becomes disabled.

An executor is a person you assign in your last will and testament to deal with your matters after you die. One person could be your last will’s executor and attorney-in-fact.

Is will notarization required by California statute?

A will in California is valid without a notary certification. Neither will you need a notary public to make your last will self-proving. A self-proving will can make probate faster because the court can admit it without communicating with the witnesses involved.

IMPORTANT: Even though notarization is not required for last wills by Alabama law, it usually helps facilitate the probate.

An attested or holographic last will, which should you pick?

If you need to make a holographic last will, you must write the whole thing by hand. However, such last wills are usually viewed as a short-term alternative. You’d like to replace this kind of a last will by making an attested one as early as you can by getting an attorney’s support or a fillable template. It isn’t encouraged to have a holographic last will as the final version because it could have ambiguous or inconsistent statements, resulting in a large stalling in the probate.

An attested last will is a typed document that is usually based on a fillable form available online or prepared with the assistance of a law firm. You would need to have two witnesses (18 years or more) sign the will in your presence for it to be considered valid. In some states, you’d have to notarize the document as well, but in California, it isn’t necessary.

Exactly what does it mean to be testamentary capable?

To be able to create your last will and modify it (to be testamentary capable), you must match specific requirements relating to your legal and mental capabilities (sound mind) first.

In the majority of states, to prepare a last will and testament, you must be of sound mind and no less than 18 years of age. “Sound mind” signifies that you don’t have any kind of mental illnesses (dementia, senility, insanity, etc.) that doesn’t allow you to have an understanding of the aftermaths of your actions.

In California, will I need a self-proving affidavit?

In line with California law, you don’t need to attach a self-proving affidavit to your last will and testament. However, it may not be a bad choice to include this document. In the course of probate, it’ll act as a substitute for the witness testimony in court and ease the process.

Is child or spouse disinheritance possible?

In California, there is such a thing as community or marital property. It implies that all of the properties and assets collected or increased while in the marriage ought to be evenly shared between the two spouses, and this makes it almost implausible to disinherit your marriage partner.

Possibly, this is one of the reasons we have the following statistics. As per, in 2018 in California, the divorce rate was 6.7 per 1,000 women over 15 years old. It is lower than the US nationwide rate during the same period.

Just those possessions you control (your personal property) are subject to will disinheritance when it comes to your spouse.

The only way for you to disinherit your marriage partner will be to enter into a prenuptial contract with him or her prior to the marriage. Here, you can redefine the community property and change your partner’s share.

As for the others, it’s legal in California to disinherit members of the family in the will. That concerns your children and other relatives; simply include disinheritance provisions to your last will and testament.

Can my last will be modified without my agreement?

No, the will can be modified only by the testator. There’s just one case when a third party is permitted to intervene. If you are physically unable to sign your last will and testament, a third party is permitted to do it in your stead but only with you present.

Can a signed, typewritten last will be modified in California?

Yes, it’s possible.

A person who wrote the will is permitted to alter or cancel his or her last will at any time. The only case that might disallow you to do it is when such doing is forbidden under the contract you concluded.

It may also be a wise decision to update your last will in the following situations:

  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • You got divorced or married
  • Real estate or major piece of property has been sold or bought
  • Your financial situation has changed noticeably

What will be the consequences of losing a last will?

California law states that a will can be admitted in case it is lost or damaged. But, nothing but the original of the last will and testament can be accepted by the probate court.

California law offers a supposition that the absence of the will implies it was revoked. That puts the responsibility on the advocate of the last will and testament to present evidence of the stated last will.

For a holographic last will, you may need sworn witnesses and testimony. This makes the process even more complicated. Besides that, you will also have to prove the actual reason why the last will and its contents cannot be produced in ways that will also show it hasn’t been annulled.

In case I am physically unable to sign my will, what am I to do?

Solely per your instruction and with you present can another person sign your last will and testament (See California Estate Code). It’s possible to give a special directive through a number of methods, which include speaking, a positive answer to a query, or body gestures.

You can have a notary sign the name of a testator that is physically unable to do it if the latter directs the notary public in the presence of a witness. It is worth mentioning that such witnesses aren’t allowed to have any interest (equitable or legal) in any assets being the issue matter or that might be influenced by this type of a document (the last will).

Related documents Instances when you could need to have one
Codicil You would like to slightly change your last will without making a new document from scratch.
Self-proving affidavit You want to save time and money for your witnesses.
Living will You would like to make certain your end-of-life treatment is carried out in line with your wishes.
Living trust You want to skip probate by placing your property in a trust.
Published: Sep 14, 2020
Mara Erlach
Mara Erlach
Writer & Attorney
Mara has been practicing estate planning and trust law in California since 2003, taking pride in helping clients of all backgrounds and asset profiles form a complete and customized estate plan. Her specialties are: estate planning, wills and trusts, trust and probate administration.