Is your out-of-state Will valid in California?

With the world's population becoming increasingly mobile, it's not uncommon to create a Will while living in one state and then to move to California to reside.

California Probate Code Section 6113 provides:

A written will is validly executed if its execution complies with any of the following:

(a) The will is executed in compliance with Section 6110 or 6111 or Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 6200) (California statutory will) or Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 6380) (Uniform International Wills Act).

(b) The execution of the will complies with the law at the time of execution of the place where the will is executed.

(c) The execution of the will complies with the law of the place where at the time of execution or at the time of death the testator is domiciled, has a place of abode, or is a national.

Therefore, for purposes of California law, if a Will was executed while the deceased person lived outside of California, but complies with the laws of that state, then it will be valid under California law. 

Personal Property vs. Real Property

The disposition of a deceased person's personal property is governed by the laws of the state where the person was domiciled at the time of his or her death. Real property dispositions, on the other hand, are governed by the laws of the state where the real property is located. Thus for example, if a California resident died owning property in Florida, then a probate proceeding may need to be separately started in Florida for the purpose of distributing the deceased person's Florida property.

Jurisdictional issues can sometimes get confusing. For those moving into California, the validity of Wills created while living outside of California (so long as they follow the formalities of the other state) should not be an issue. However, for California residents who are contemplating moving to another state, it is important to obtain a review of your estate planning documents by a qualified estate planning lawyer in that state.