Can a Person Write Their Own Will & Then Have It Notarized?

By Teo Spengler

In this age of technology, writing out a will by hand may not be the norm, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to typed or printed wills. The key to making an effective handwritten will is knowing your state laws regarding whether witnesses are required and, if so, how many.

Holographic Wills

Not every jurisdiction requires that every will be witnessed. Some states, like California, authorize unwitnessed holographic wills if they are written entirely in the handwriting of the will maker, who is known as the testator. Notarizing a holographic will is not required, but it also doesn't invalidate the will.

Witnessed Wills

If your state does not accept holographic wills, you can still write out your will by hand if you get witnesses to sign after you. Witness requirements vary among jurisdictions. Most states accept a will -- handwritten, typed or printed -- with two or three witness signatures. Notary signatures on witnessed wills are generally not required, but do not invalidate the will.

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Is a Hand-Written Notarized Will Legal?

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Are Homemade Wills Legal in Texas?

Texas does not require you to have an attorney draft your will, so you can write one yourself at home or complete one online. However, your homemade typewritten will must meet all the same formalities as if your will had been drafted by an attorney, and an online legal services provider can help you meet these formalities. Texas will also allow handwritten -- or holographic -- wills, but they come with inherent disadvantages.

Standard Will Vs. Living Will

Planning your estate may involve creating several documents to address your end-of-life care before you die and your property after you die. Two of these documents may be a will and living will. A will directs the distribution of your assets after you die and a living will directs your health care while you are alive.

How Can I Make My Own Will Legal?

A valid will assures you that, upon your death, your property passes as you direct -- not according to government statutes. In most states, your choice of heir is unrestricted, although a few jurisdictions require provision for minor children. While most states do not mandate specific language to validate a will, they do vary on exact procedural requirements for last testaments. The general requirements include an of-age testator (18 or older), clear testamentary intent and two inscribing witnesses. Refer to the specific laws of your state and consider consulting a lawyer to ensure your will meets the jurisdictional requirements for legality.

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