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Is A Holographic Will Legal?

A holographic will is legal in some states, but not all of them. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of a holographic will?

Jasper L. Edwards

 

The answer as to whether a holographic will (handwritten will) is legal is all to do with the particular circumstances.

Firstly, a will must meet certain legal requirements regarding content, witnesses and signatures. This is true whether or not the will is typed or holographic. Such requirements will include a description of the testator (the will-maker); description of the estate and property, and so on will.

Even if you do write a holographic will correctly, including all of the relevant provisions that make a will valid, in approximately half of the states in the US, such a will has no legal standing because these states do not recognize handwritten wills at all. Therefore, in these states, there is no advantage to having a holographic will.

In the remaining states, however, any will can be revoked by a subsequent handwritten will, by destroying the will in the presence of the testator, with his consent or direction.

Be careful, too, about amendments such as handwritten inserts, which are bound to raise an eyebrow in court as to whether such modifications were intended by the testator. This could lead to the entire will being thrown out.

There is a valid reason as to why you should not amend a will using handwritten notes. In US states where holographic wills have no legal standing, such handwritten notes may be taken as a revocation of the entire will. And in those states where handwritten wills are not accepted, it's possible you may leave the entire will open to misinterpretation.

In conclusion, what sets a will apart from all other legal agreements is that the maker of the will is the only party that is deceased when the will is before the courts. Because of this, there is no way to check with the testator as to what he or she intended when the will was written. Given that the only document a court has at its disposal is the will itself, it's really little wonder why the law is strict regarding format for legal wills.

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