Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Pennsylvania?

By April Kohl

Handwritten wills have a long history in the United States, given that originally all wills were handwritten. However, in the interests of combating fraud and undue influence on testators, the requirements for a will to be declared valid have altered over the years. A handwritten will may be legal in Pennsylvania depending on the individual circumstances.

State Requirements

Under Pennsylvania state code section 2502, wills must be “in writing” and signed by the person making the will, known as the testator. The testator must be 18 years of age and of sound mind, which is generally defined as being capable of understanding what he is doing when he prepared and signed the will. The state of Pennsylvania therefore makes no legal distinction between a handwritten will and a typed will.

Holographic Wills

A holographic will is a will drafted in the testator's own handwriting but not signed. As the Pennsylvania state code specifically requires that a will have either a signature or a signature by mark, where the testator makes a mark on the will in place of a signature and before two witnesses, a holographic will is not valid in Pennsylvania.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Signature

The testator's signature is not always required for a will to be valid in Pennsylvania. Section 2502 of the state code allows for another person to sign the will on the testator's behalf providing the testator declares the will as his will in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will. Similarly, two witnesses may attest by signing, a mark made on the will by the testator in lieu of a signature.

Witnesses

A standard will signed by the testator does not require witnesses to sign it in Pennsylvania. However, two witnesses are required to appear before the Register of Wills during probate to attest that the signature on the will is valid. Witnesses who have signed the will can instead appear before a notary -- which can take less time.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Constitutes a Legal Will in Pennsylvania?
 

References

Related articles

Requirements for a Legal Will in Minnesota

Anyone at least 18 years of age and of sound mind can execute a will in Minnesota. The state does not recognize oral or unwitnessed wills executed in the state, but will consider such wills if validly executed in a different state..

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.

What Is a Legal Will in the State of North Carolina?

Wills in North Carolina can take many forms, depending on the circumstances. However, for each form of will to be declared valid by a North Carolina probate court, the will must conform to the requirements of the North Carolina state code Chapter 31 for the type of will being used.

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

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 ...

Are Holographic Wills Legal in the State of Tennessee?

A holographic will is a will that is written by hand instead of printed or typed. The state of Tennessee generally ...

Is a Notary Needed for a Will to Be Legal in Virginia?

Strictly speaking, a notary is not required for a will to be valid in Virginia. This isn’t to say that having a notary ...

Are Holographic Wills Legal in Illinois?

The general definition of a holographic will is that it is written by hand and is not witnessed. Different states have ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED