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Can I Write My Own Will in California?

Can I Write My Own Will in California?

You’ve worked hard to build your legacy. Take the necessary steps to secure your assets and provide for the well-being of your family with a California wills attorney.

If you are considering writing your own will, know that while it is possible, it’s generally not a wise choice. A skilled attorney who understands California law and is experienced in drafting estate plans, trusts, and wills can be an invaluable asset and can ensure your wishes are followed.

The Drawbacks of Creating Your Will Yourself

Statutory wills, the “fill-in-the-blank” templates the state provides, may seem like a solution for someone looking to write their own will in California. However, these wills are created with a -one-size-fits-all mentality, and there is rarely one size or type of estate plan. Consider the following drawbacks of a statutory will:

  • Oversimplification. There are multiple online forms for creating a will; California offers a will form in its Probate Code. However, be aware that such a will may oversimplify your intentions.
  • Money Loss. A statutory will is not created to help you avoid death taxes and other potential taxes. To protect your estate, contact a California wills attorney.
  • Family Protection. The will treats adopted children as if they are your own, but it doesn’t for stepchildren, foster children, or other dependents. To protect your potential heirs, a statutory will is likely not the most optimal choice.

A will is one of the most important documents you will make in your life, and while a statutory will is legal, it simply doesn’t account for the complications that could arise. Help your family get through this difficult time by providing them with the clarity they need in the aftermath of your passing. Learning your next steps from an attorney can greatly reduce the possibility of a will being contested in court.

A skilled attorney can work with you to list your assets, name beneficiaries, provide for the guardianship of your children, and name an executor, among other things.

Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Draft Your Will

A California wills attorney knows the law and can craft a legal will that protects your assets from unnecessary fees and ensures your wishes are fulfilled. Before filling out a statutory will, consider why hiring an experienced attorney can protect your interests.

  • Legal knowledge. The right lawyer can offer the guidance you need to create a specific and detailed will. Because these laws are so specific to the state, it is important to have a California wills lawyer.
  • Cost-effective. An attorney ensures your finances are in place and that no excess charges or taxes accompany your estate.
  • Making future amendments to the will. As life situations change, your attorney can modify your will to reflect any new considerations. During your lifetime, you may divorce, marry, or have more children. You will want to amend your will to reflect these changes.
  • Time-saving. A skilled estate planning attorney knows the law and all updates to it. They can create a will for you in a relatively short period of time, as opposed to creating your own will, which may take much more time.
  • Avoid common mistakes. Asset allocation, guardianship, and the naming of an executor seem like simple choices that a statutory will could handle. However, each of these comes with its own complexities. An attorney can help you avoid common mishaps that could affect your estate.
  • Avoid a complex court process. While the probate process in California is complicated, the right attorney can help draft a will that could avoid time in court.
  • Reducing the risk of a legal contest to the will. Though impossible to guarantee, a lawyer-drafted will greatly reduce the risk of the will being contested.


Q: Can I Write a Will Without a Lawyer in California?

A: You can write your own will in California without a lawyer. The Probate Code offers a form to fill out to create your will. There are also multiple online sites for creating your own will. This type of will must be witnessed by two individuals and signed by them. Writing your own will comes with caveats. The burden is on you to make sure everything is correct, accounted for, and witnessed properly.

Q: Do Wills Have to be Notarized in California?

A: Wills in California do not need to be notarized. Depending on the type of will drawn up, however, witnesses may need to sign. A statutory will must be witnessed and signed by two witnesses. A holographic will, one that has been physically handwritten by you, does not require any witnesses or notarization. A will drawn up by an attorney must be signed by two witnesses.

Q: What Are the Legal Requirements for a Will in California?

A: The will must be handwritten or printed. The will must be signed by the testator, the person making the will. The will must be witnessed and signed by two witnesses unless it has been handwritten. Though not required to be signed by witnesses, a holographic will gain some authenticity with the addition of witness signatures.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will in California?

A: Hiring an attorney to make your will costs between $400 to $700 in California. The fee varies based on the complexities of your circumstances. The fee for an individual will is lower than the fee for a married couple. Likewise, for an individual with considerable assets, the fee may be higher.

Find an Experienced California Wills Attorney

While a statutory will might seem like an easy solution, protecting your family and your assets is much easier with help from an attorney. Creating a sound, legal will is the biggest gift you can give to your loved ones. A well-crafted will can save them unnecessary time, money, and stress during a difficult time.

Choosing a legal partner to draw up your will is the first step towards securing your assets and providing for your family. Contact Robert G. Petrovich, Attorney at Law, to create your legal blueprint for the future.

Call Today For More Information

Call 626-792-5955 (*must dial 1 plus 626 area code) or contact us online
to arrange a confidential consultation.

Based in San Marino (near Pasadena), Mr. Petrovich handles estate planning, probate, business law, real estate, and other legal matters throughout the San Gabriel Valley.