What is a Statutory Will?

The Statutory Will is essentially a form with a number of blanks for the Testator to fill in. The methods by which your assets will be transferred at the time of your death are somewhat limited, but may be more than adequate for individuals with small estates. It is important to note, however, that relying upon a Will, statutory or otherwise, may require your estate to be probated.

The California Statutory Will and the laws that give rise to it are provided in California Probate Code Sections 6200-6243. Under Probate Code Section 6220, any individual of sound mind and over the age of 18 may execute a California Statutory Will. A Statutory Will must also be witnessed by at least 2 people who both observe the Testator's signing and who both sign their names in the presence of the Testator, as described in Probate Code Section 6221(b).

If you are in a situation where you do not have time to consult with an estate planning lawyer, you may want to establish a Statutory Will as a stop-gap measure until you are able to meet with a lawyer to discuss the specifics of your estate plan. Often, this might be before a vacation or a major medical procedure. By having a Statutory Will in place, you will have a plan, even if imperfect, for how your assets will be distributed.

You can obtain a copy by going to the California bar website. Here's the link to the Statutory Will.