Are Handwritten Wills Legal in South Carolina?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Are Handwritten Wills Legal in South Carolina?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

A will that is entirely in the handwriting of the person signing it and does not include witnesses' signatures is a holographic will. Laws governing holographic wills vary by state. While some states allow holographic wills, others prohibit them or accept them only if they meet specific criteria. Handwritten wills prepared in South Carolina are not legal. However, a holographic will created in another state may be valid in South Carolina.

Person writing on document

Applicable South Carolina Law

In South Carolina, Title 62 of Article 2 of the South Carolina Probate Code addresses wills. Valid South Carolina wills are written documents. In addition, two competent, disinterested people who are at least 18 years old must sign as witnesses, attesting that they watched the will's creator sign it. The person creating a will, the testator, must be at least 18 years old and must have the mental capacity to create a will.

Section 62-2-505 of the Code provides that a written will is legal if it meets these South Carolina-specific legal formalities. A will is also valid if the testator signed it in another state and met that state's legal requirements to create a valid will.

Therefore, a holographic will created by a South Carolina resident is not generally valid if that person dies while living in the state. However, if someone creates a holographic will while living in another state and subsequently moves to and dies in South Carolina, the holographic will may be valid as long as it was valid in the state of creation at the time the testator signed it.

In general, in states that accept holographic wills, the document must be entirely in the testator's handwriting. In addition, a holographic will must contain the testator's signature and the date signed. Some states' laws allow hybrid typed and printed wills and holographic wills.

Last Will and Testament Considerations

No matter where you live, you are not obligated to create a will. However, preparing a will can provide the comfort of knowing you have documented your wishes for your estate.

Wills created in any state should identify beneficiaries for assets that pass through the estate. Your will may also nominate a trusted family member, friend, or professional fiduciary to serve as your personal representative or executor. The personal representative role is responsible for administering the estate and carrying out your wishes as specified in your will.

If you have minor children, you can nominate someone in your will to serve as guardian. When you make that designation, you state who should have physical custody of your children until they turn 18, if you die prematurely. Finally, testamentary trust provisions inside wills can provide for ongoing administration and distributions for minors or financially irresponsible beneficiaries.

Creating a Will

When you create a will that complies with current South Carolina law, it is easier for your loved ones to settle your estate when you die.

To create your will, you can work with an attorney licensed to practice law in South Carolina. Another option is working with an online service provider to create your new will.

Under certain circumstances, your holographic will may be valid in South Carolina. However, if you create a new will that complies with state law, you can be certain your will is valid.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.