After death, a probate judge determines the validity of your will. Not all types of wills are valid in every state.
In California, probate courts will only accept three types of wills.
All wills must be compliant with California law. An attested will is the preferred type of will because your attorney, who has a deeper understanding of California estate law, prepares it. Once complete, you must sign the will in front of two or more witnesses. Both witnesses cannot be beneficiaries. If witnesses sign under penalty of perjury or if you get your will notarized, your will becomes self-proving. Probate courts see self-proving wills as more valid and are less likely to question their authenticity.
Statutory wills are free, printable forms developed according to California law. These templates can simplify the process if you are unsure what to include in your will. Like with attested wills, you must sign your statutory will in the presence of two neutral witnesses. You can make your statutory will self-proving, too.
Holographic wills are handwritten wills. Although you do not have to sign this will in front of witnesses, you do have to handwrite your will yourself. You should appoint someone who can either provide examples of your handwriting or testify that your will is in your handwriting. Otherwise, the probate court may not accept your will as valid.
Planning your estate properly can speed up the probate process, and knowing your options can help you decide which type of will is best for you.