A will may seem like a simple document—a list of heirs who get your assets after you die. But it’s not something that should be written quickly or without careful consideration. Some people may be tempted to create a DIY will using estate planning resources found on the internet, and there’s no shortage of websites and services that promise “irrefutable” or “incontestable” wills for a fraction of whatever a qualified attorney may charge. However, even templates that seem foolproof won’t work if you don’t understand and follow California law. You should only use a DIY will if you have a very simple estate or few assets.  Using DIY wills

DIY Wills May Not Be Valid

Using an online document to create your will can cost your family a lot of time, money, and hassle after you’re gone. There are many potential pitfalls when creating this type of will, and it’s important to understand the laws that make a California will legal and valid:

  • In California, a will is only valid if it’s signed by you and at least two other “disinterested” parties
  • Certain restrictions limit who can sign your will
  • Your will may need to be brought before a court to be validated, depending on its contents

A poorly constructed template might not ask for all the required information. Thus, after you pay for and fill out a DIY, it may not have any legal value. If this happens, it’s possible that your prospective heirs may end up fighting for their fair share of your assets with a probate judge.

Unless you know California’s property inheritance statutes and tax code with intimate familiarity, a DIY-template isn’t going to protect your loved ones from unexpected levies or challenges. If, for instance, you own properties worth more than exactly $166,250, you’d be best-advised to discuss property inheritance options such as joint tenancy with survivorship or trust funds with an experienced attorney.

Contact The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc.

The validity of a will varies from state to state, as do your options for equitably disbursing property, assets, and funds to loved ones. Unless you understand California estate law and probate protocol, using a DIY will may cost your family money they didn’t need to pay.

To ensure that your family is protected after you die, call us, or contact us through our website. We’ve managed estates of all sizes and can you help you decide what arrangements are best for you. 


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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