Are there some states in which you do not need a Will?

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Are there some states in which you do not need a Will?

I wonder if I need a will if I’m located in CA? I’ve heard laws here are such that you don’t need one.

Asked on July 21, 2011 California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Technically you don't need a Will in any state. People who die without Will are said to have died "intestate". In such a case their state's intestacy law governs the distribution of the estate. The deceased has no control over just who gets what. That's why havinga Will is best. This way your estate is distributed according to your wishes.

I think what you might have heard is that in CA a formal Will is not required. In other words an attorney does not have to draft one. As in other states, you can also get a form on-line and fill it our yourself. Additionally, in CA you can have a "holographic " Will. Such a Will is written in the testator's own hand (i.e. the person making the Will). There are certain other requirements but frankly these Wills can be open to interpretation depending on the Will's wording and are not usually recommended, particularly if extensive assets involved. Your best bet is to either go to an Attorney and have them do it all, or get an on-line form. If you do the latter, you may at least want an attorney to review it.


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