What is a Self-Proving Will in California?

For many people, their will is the centerpiece of their estate planning efforts. As such, they likely ensured that it satisfied the state requirements to be valid and admitted into probate court. When someone creates and executes a will, is of sound mind, has the necessary witnesses, and gets the necessary signatures, it becomes a self-proving will in California as long as there are no later-created versions of the will. But these things get tricky because a will that seems like it’s self-proving isn’t always valid. 

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless beneficiaries enforce their probate rights and successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements and trial verdicts for clients. Here’s what you need to know about self-proving wills in California. 

What is a Self-Proving Will in California?

A self-proving will in California is a will that the probate court can accept as the genuine will of the decedent. A will is admissible to probate when it was properly prepared and executed by an adult and according to California law. 

At the time that they signed the will, the person who created it must have had testamentary capacity and not have been under any undue influence. Essentially, all wills are self-proving if they meet the basic requirements for a valid will, such as being correctly signed and executed by the testator and witnesses. 

If a will is not a self-proving will in California and you suspect that either it was created when the testator was under undue influence or lacked capacity, there are more current versions of the will, or there are other invalidating circumstances at play like fraud, working with a will dispute lawyer is crucial. 

Typically, if there is no question or contest about a will’s legitimacy, the probate court will accept it without requiring testimony of witnesses, thus speeding up the probate process. Upon the death of the person who created the will, the court often turns to witnesses to establish that:

  • They witnessed the testator sign the will
  • The person making the will informed them that the document is their only will
  • The testator was of sound mind and had the mental capacity to make a will
  • The person making the will was not under any duress 

“Even if a document seems like it’s a self-proving will, there can still be red flags signaling that it is not actually valid, which is why working with an attorney and obtaining a copy of the document is so crucial. Whether it’s inadequate language in the document itself or suspicious circumstances surrounding the creation of the will, a will dispute attorney will be able to interpret the document and gather the evidence you need to prove in court that a will that seems self-proving is, in fact, invalid.”

Ali Nicolette, Associate, Gokal Law Group

Related Article: What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will in California? 

Are You Dealing with a Document That’s Not a Self-Proving Will in California? We Can Dispute It and Enforce Your Rights!

A self-proving will in California can speed up the process of having the probate court validate and admit the document. But if you believe that someone coerced or manipulated the creator when in a vulnerable state, someone committed forgery or fraud to produce this document, or that a more recent version of the will exists, you can work with a premier will dispute lawyer to invalidate the document in court and defend your inheritance. 

To enforce your rights and safeguard the assets you are entitled to, visit our Contact Page to schedule a free consultation. 


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