WHY DO I NEED A WILL?
A Will is necessary because it lets your heirs know your wishes in the event of your death. In a Will, you can specify which possessions go to family & friends. If you have minor children you can nominate a guardian for them in a Will. You can also designate a person(s) who will inherit your real estate and/or who will be executor of the estate. However, a Will does not avoid Probate in California–a Trust will do this.
WHAT MAKES A VALID WILL?
In California, a formal Will must be witnessed by 2 people. Their signatures must be on the Will to be valid. If the Will is handwritten it is called a ‘holographic Will’ and does not need to be witnessed. However, it must be in the person’s handwriting and signed and dated by the person who created the Will.
DOES A WILL AVOID PROBATE?
No, a Will does not avoid Probate. If you have real estate in California, then you should consider having a Trust prepared in order to avoid Probate.
IS IT LEGAL TO SAY ON A WILL THAT IF ANYONE DISPUTES THE WILL THEY WILL GET NOTHING OR $1.00?
Yes, it is common practice to put this clause in a Will. A person can still challenge the Will—but if not successful they may lose their entire interest in the estate. However, if the challenger wins, he/she can still inherit. This clause is meant to discourage people from disputing the Will and delaying the closing of the estate.