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What are holographic, oral and video wills?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2023 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Administration & Probate

When most people think of the California estate planning process, they imagine legal documents that have been typed with a space at the bottom for signatures. Regarding a last will and testament, however, this is not the only type of will there is. In fact, there are several others, including a holographic, oral and video will.  

A video will is not a valid and legally enforceable way to bequeath assets to heirs or beneficiaries in this state. Some people create a video as a final farewell to their loved ones. They might state everything that a traditional will would contain, including what inheritance each beneficiary can expect to receive. However, it is not the video but a properly executed – usually typewritten — will that would be the valid document. Therefore, anyone who plans to make a video for their family will also want to execute a traditional last will and testament in accordance with state laws. 

A holographic will can be validated in court 

Another potentially valid type of will is a holographic will. This term refers to documents that have been written in a testator’s own hand rather than being typed or printed. While this type of will is not valid in some states, it is an acceptable way to bequeath an inheritance in California. Under California law, however, a testator must date a holographic will for it to be valid.  

California does not recognize a nuncupative (oral) will 

There are several states that consider a nuncupative (oral) will valid, although California is not one of them. This issue could be important to someone who has issued an oral will in a state that allows it, then moves to a state where it is not recognized. The best way to ensure that one’s last will and testament is valid is to consult with an estate planning attorney to seek clarification of applicable laws.