The will is the backbone of the estate plan for many people. For those who live in California, the will must meet specific requirements. Any will that doesn't meet these will be considered invalid by the court. This means that the estate will be handled in accordance with the state's intestate laws, so you won't have any say in who gets what from your estate.
One of the basic points of creating a will is that you must be an adult who is of sound mind. In California, an adult is a person who is at least 18 years old. You must be able to understand the implications of the terms of the will and what the provisions mean for your beneficiaries.
This state doesn't recognize oral wills, so anything you want in the will must be conveyed in a written document. Most wills now are typed and signed; however, it is still possible to write your will by hand. In order for this to be valid here, the material parts of the will and your signature must be in your own writing. The will also must show testamentary intent, which can be done through extrinsic evidence.
If you choose to have a typed will, you will need to have two witnesses. They must both be with you at the same time when you sign. Neither person should have any vested interest in the estate. Both should understand that this is your will and that it is what you want. They must know that you know what your choices mean.
Taking the time to get your will handled is a challenging proposition, but it is worth the time. You can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing you can care your loved ones when you are gone if you have your estate plan in order.