Holographic Wills in Colorado

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Holographic Wills in Colorado

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

A will is a useful estate planning tool that allows you to provide for your family after your death. You can choose an executor to manage your estate, you can give away your belongings to your loved ones, and you can even designate guardians to care for your minor children. However, before any of this can happen, a probate court must accept your document as valid. In Colorado, a holographic will, or one written entirely in your own handwriting, can be valid, but it must meet the state's requirements.

Person writing "This is the last will and testament of me" on sheet of paper

General Will Requirements in Colorado

For a Colorado probate court to recognize your holographic will, you must adhere strictly to the requirements set forth by state law.

Who Can Write One

In Colorado, any individual 18 years or older who is of sound mind can create this legal document. Being of sound mind generally means that the individual knows what they are doing and has not been deemed incompetent in a prior legal proceeding.

Written Requirement

Under Colorado law, a will is only considered valid if it is in writing and signed by the testator. A court will not accept an oral version of these last wishes, but handwritten and typed versions may be valid. The requirements for a valid document differ depending on whether it is handwritten or typed.

Witness Requirement

If you type your will, you must have two attesting witnesses sign it or have it notarized. Notarized documents do not need witnesses. However, if it is not notarized, two witnesses must be present when the testator signs. The only requirement for witnesses is that the individuals must be generally competent.

Requirements for Holographic Wills

Some states do not recognize holographic versions of last wishes at all. However, Colorado generally accepts them as long as they meet certain standards. Under Section 15-11-502, the testator must write the material portions of this document entirely in their own handwriting. The testator must also sign it, but there is no requirement under Colorado law for witnesses to be present. However, as a safeguard, the state does require some evidence that you intended the document to be your will.

Writings Intended as Wills

Colorado is unique in that it also accepts certain writings as wills even if they do not comply with the exact requirements for a valid document. Under Section 15-11-503, the state accepts a document or writing as a valid will even if it is not in compliance with state law if the proponent of the document establishes clear and convincing evidence for what the deceased person intended. However, for a court to consider the document under this section, the document or writing put forth must be signed by the testator.

Making sure this important legal document is valid is of the utmost importance if you want to provide for your loved ones after you die. Whether you choose to create a holographic will by writing the entire document by hand, the use an estate planning attorney can help you comply with Colorado's laws, as well as create the form for you if you decide not to write it.

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