Existing California law does not yet include a law providing for electronic wills, although proposed legislation exists.
California law generally requires that a will be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by two witnesses. California Probate Code § 6110. We have written about the formalities required for a valid California will here.
Are Electronic Wills Valid In California?
Not yet. California has pending legislation permitting electronic wills. Assembly Bill 1667 was introduced in February 2019 and would provide that an electronic will is validly executed if it is executed in compliance with the provisions applicable to written wills in California.
AB 1667 is known as the “Electronic Wills Act.”
The Electronic Wills Act would amend section 6113 of the California Probate Code. Currently, section 6113 states:
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.
The Electronic Wills Act would add the phrase “or electronic” in the first sentence of section 6113, so that it would read: “A written or electronic will is validly executed if its execution complies with any of the following:…”
More and more states, including Florida, are enacting electronic will legislation.
What Is Considered An Electronic Will Under the Proposed Legislation?
California’s proposed legislation defines “electronic will” as a “will executed electronically in compliance with this chapter,” that must be:
[S]igned electronically by two or more individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after the individual, in physical or electronic presence of the testator and at the testator’s specific direction, who understand that the instrument that they sign is the testator’s will, and who witnessed either of the following:
(1) The signing of the will under subdivision (a).
(2) The testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or of the electronic will.
A pdf of Assembly Bill 1667 is here. The progress of the bill can be tracked by clicking here and entering “AB 1667” under Quick Bill Search. It is unknown when and if electronic wills will become law in California. For now, California residents who seek to execute a will must follow the current requirements to execute a valid will in California.