How to Write a Hand Written Will

By Beverly Bird

When you write your last will and testament by hand, it’s called "holographic" in legal terms. Some states require witnesses for holographic wills; others do not. Some states don’t accept handwritten wills at all. Check with your state’s website or consult with an attorney to be sure of your area's guidelines.

When you write your last will and testament by hand, it’s called "holographic" in legal terms. Some states require witnesses for holographic wills; others do not. Some states don’t accept handwritten wills at all. Check with your state’s website or consult with an attorney to be sure of your area's guidelines.

Step 1

Go online to access a will format that's valid in your particular state. This will provide you with specific language you should include to make sure your will is legal. It can also tell you what the requirements are for a holographic will in your area — whether you need witnesses, for example. If you don’t have access to the Internet, the reference sections in most libraries should also have a format that you can follow.

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Step 2

Decide to whom you would like to leave your assets and possessions. Make a list of all other provisions you want to include in your will, such as a guardian for your children if you have any, burial arrangements, and who you would like to act as executor to carry out the terms of your will and guide it through the probate process.

Step 3

Write your will completely in your own handwriting. If you print out a form from the Internet and fill in the blanks in your handwriting, it may not be valid. Some states require that your will contain no typing or computer printing at all. State clearly at the top that this is your last will and testament. If you ever wrote a will previously, state that you're revoking it in favor of this one.

Step 4

Number each page of your will when you've completed it, including the total number of pages. For example, if it’s two pages long, write at the bottom of each page, “1 of 2” and “2 of 2.” Staple the pages together.

Step 5

Arrange for witnesses to watch you sign your will, if your state requires them. The number you’ll need depends on the laws of your state. When you check the library or the Internet for a format, you should also be able to learn how many witnesses your state requires. Generally, even if they’re not necessary in your state, it doesn’t hurt to include them anyway, but check with an attorney or legal aid service in your area to be sure. You may want to also have your will notarized.

Step 6

Sign and date your will in the presence of your witnesses, then have them sign it as well.

Step 7

Have each of your witnesses sign a self-proving affidavit. This is a statement that they watched you sign your will and they’re certain that the handwriting of both the will and your signature is your own. Attach the affidavits to your will. This will prevent any of your heirs from contesting your will by saying you didn’t really write it.

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Does a LegalZoom Will Have to Be Notarized?

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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.

Is a Handwritten Will Legal?

A handwritten or "holographic" will is a will written entirely in the handwriting of the testator, or the person making the will, according to The Free Legal Dictionary. Not all U.S. states recognize a holographic will as valid, according to MedLawPlus. Those states that recognize handwritten wills usually allow the will to be unwitnessed as long as it is signed by the testator and is written in the testator's handwriting.

How to Execute a Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a document used to distribute the property after the property owner dies. The person who creates the will, known as the testator, must not only clearly state his intended distribution of property, he must also execute the will in legally valid form. Although exact procedures vary from state to state, common features are found in every state. Check the law of your state for exact procedures and have an attorney look over your will before you sign it.

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