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.

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.

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Do Wills Have to Be Handwritten?

References

Related articles

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

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.

Are Recorded Conversations Legal in Divorce Court?

"He said, she said" can typify arguments between embattled spouses, where each accuses the other of communications the other denies. It may seem that recording conversations would resolve divorce issues quickly, but this is not always true. Recordings of private conversations, even when legally made, are not admissible evidence in civil courts in all states.

Must I Have My Will Notorized in Michigan for it to Be Legal?

A will must be signed by the testator, or the person who made the will, and at least two witnesses who saw the testator sign, in all 50 states, including Michigan, according to FindLaw. Notarization is not required in Michigan, but a notarized will may be accepted as "self-proving," potentially making probate proceedings easier for those you leave behind.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Is it Legal to Handwrite a Will in Minnesota if You Get it Notarized?

A handwritten will may also be known as a holographic or olographic will. Some states recognize a handwritten will as ...

Is a Hand-Written Notarized Will Legal?

Your will can direct the distribution of your property after your death, name someone you trust to manage your estate ...

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 ...

Is a Self Made Will Legal if Notarized?

A self-made will is legal if it meets your state's requirements for wills. All states have requirements that include ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED