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Richard
Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55000
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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I'm in California. Can I use a will kit and write my own will

Customer Question

I'm in California. Can I use a will kit and write my own will with witness signatures? Do I need to get it notarized? I have a previous will with a lawyer, but every time I've changed it, it cost me $1,000. I'm retired and can't afford that now.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
Hi! My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!
Yes, you can use a will kit and they work fine for pretty simple standard wills. Alternatively, if the changes to your existing will are minor, you do not need to re-do your entire will. Rather, you can make these changes by doing a Codicil...which is a fancy legal term for an amendment when a will is involved. In the Codicil, you can reference your original will, state that other than the changes in the Codicil all terms and provisions of the original will remain in full force and effect, and then specify which provisions of the original will are being changed. You will want to have the Codicil signed, witnessed, and notarized in the same format as the original will. Then, make sure you keep the Codicil with the original will so whoever gets your will at your death will know the Codicil exists. You can do this yourself or you can seek the guidance of a lawyer, but you are not obligated to engage a lawyer to do this for you. Although notarization of a will is not required, it is recommended because if the signatures of yourself and your witnesses are notarized, the will is deemed to be "self-proved" and your witnesses are then not required to attend the probate hearing at the time of your death to attest to the fact that they witnessed your will.
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