Is a Handwritten Last Will & Testament Legal?

By Laura Myers

A handwritten will is known as a holographic will. It must be written in the testator’s own handwriting and signed by the testator, according to the National Paralegal College website. It is advisable to review the laws of your state regarding holographic wills because if your holographic will does not conform to the requirements of your state, it will be deemed invalid.

A handwritten will is known as a holographic will. It must be written in the testator’s own handwriting and signed by the testator, according to the National Paralegal College website. It is advisable to review the laws of your state regarding holographic wills because if your holographic will does not conform to the requirements of your state, it will be deemed invalid.

Witnesses

Even though it is necessary for other written wills to be witnessed, a holographic will does not need to be witnessed to be legal; it simply needs to be signed by the testator, according to the FindLaw website.

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Verification of Handwriting

In cases of holographic wills, the testator’s handwriting usually must be verified after death. For example, the Shelby County website states that in Tennessee, two individuals must attest to the authenticity of the handwriting. The rules for handwriting verification may vary from state to state, so it is important to know your local requirements.

Difficulties with Holographic Wills

Handwritten wills present some definite problems for the courts: It is easy to tamper with them and they are often difficult to verify. Many courts are, therefore, reluctant to accept them. As a general rule, holographic wills should always be dated in the testator's own handwriting. It is important to note that if the will is not accepted, the decedent’s property will be dealt with as if he died intestate, or without a will.

Inconsistent Acceptance of Holographic Wills

Holographic wills are not accepted in all states. In fact, according to the FindLaw website, only about half the states recognize them. Furthermore, while some states insist that the entire document be written in the testator’s handwriting, other states will accept a holographic fill-in-the-blanks will. Some states that do not recognize holographic wills still will honor them if they were written in a state that does recognize them. Before making a handwritten will, it is, therefore, essential to find out whether or not it can be recognized in your jurisdiction.

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Is a Handwritten Will Legal?

References

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Handwritten Last Will & Testaments

Each state has its own laws on what constitutes a valid last will and testament. In most states, a will must be in writing, but whether it is typed or handwritten generally doesn't matter if the will meets all the other requirements for validity in the state. About half of states, however, recognize a special type of handwritten will.

Are Out-of-State Wills Considered in Florida Probate?

Out-of-state wills can be filed for consideration in Florida probate court, but they may not always be held valid and enforced. According to the Florida Statutes, the will must be valid according to the state in which it is executed. Additionally, however, Florida does not recognize certain types of wills even if they are valid where executed.

Are Handwritten Wills Legal in South Carolina?

In many states, handwritten, or holographic, wills are either not legal, or accepted only if they meet certain requirements. In South Carolina, Title 62 Section 2 of the state’s legislative code leaves a gray area. If you make a handwritten will in South Carolina, it is not legal; however, if you make the will in one of the 24 states that do recognize handwritten wills, then you move to South Carolina, in most cases, it is valid.

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