Do You Have a Valid Will?
California Probate Code 6110 sets forth that anyone 18 and older can execute a valid will provided that the will is a in written form, is signed by the testator (individual executing the will), and the signing is done in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must be disinterested parties. The term ‘written’ is construed in broad terms.
Suppose a group of hikers go to the Sierra Nevadas during Christmas vacation to hike for a week. They pack their stuff and plan to sleep in tents to really experience the grandeur of the Sierra Nevada. They plan on climbing Mount Whitney as part of their trip.
The first few days are excellent. The serene mountains are incredible; the cooler weather provides a breath of fresh air. That night, they head to bed early for a morning climb on Mount Whitney.
The next morning, they wake up to an unexpected blizzard. Undeterred, the group dresses in their thermal gear, excited for the chance to tackle the mountain. At first, things go well, they start making significant progress despite the conditions. However, as the morning wears on, the storm intensifies, making visibility low. Nonetheless, the group, filled with excitement, forges on.
Approximately halfway up the mountain, the group decides to rest in a crevice. They are exhausted from the combination of the conditions and the climb. They debate about continuing up to the summit. A few are concerned about the conditions and whether they have what it takes. The rest want to climb and are enjoying the challenge.
While the group is discussing the matter inside the crevice, an avalanche rushes by and covers the entrance to the crevice, trapping the small group inside. Now the group is afraid to leave. Trying to get out during an avalanche means that the snow may push them down the mountain to their deaths. So, they decide to stay and wait things out. In the meantime, the high winds harden the snow, making escape more difficult.
Another difficulty is that their cellphones do not work in this part of the Sierra Nevada.
The storm rages for days. In the meantime, members of the group sit and wait. Fearful of death, the members of the group each write letters to their families. They also draft wills on paper and have others sign them.
After a few harrowing days, the storm subsides. The group is able to dig out of the crevice and head back down the mountain. They decide to abandon the rest of the trip. They head to a forest ranger who takes them to a hospital for examination, where they are examined and released.
After saying goodbye, they look at their wills. Have the people in the crevice executed valid wills?
Such wills, in legal terms, are referred to as holographic wills. California, unlike other states, recognizes holographic wills as valid, provided that they satisfies the other requirements. In this instance, the hikers all executed valid wills.
Thinking about drafting a will? Speak with a California attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in wills. Speak with the Law Firm of Melanie Tavare.