Are Handwritten Wills Legal in Louisiana If Not Notarized?

By A.L. Kennedy

Under Louisiana law, an olographic will is one written, signed and dated entirely in the handwriting of the testator, or person making the will, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1575. A handwritten or olographic will is generally considered valid in Louisiana as long as the entire will is in the testator's own handwriting, even if the will is not notarized, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1574 and 1575.

Types of Wills

Louisiana law recognizes two different types of wills or "testaments": olographic and notarial, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1574. An olographic testament is one that is "entirely written, dated, and signed in the handwriting of the testator," according to Louisiana Civil Code 1575. A notarial will is one that is notarized and meets the requirements of Louisiana Civil Code sections 1577 through 1580, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1576.

Requirements for Olographic Wills

In addition to being written entirely by the testator, an olographic will must meet several other requirements listed in Louisiana Civil Code 1575. First, an olographic will must be signed by the testator and dated, and the date must list the day, month and year. The testator must also sign the will or testament at the bottom, although he or she may add a postscript if necessary. Finally, any additions, deletions or changes must be made in the testator's own handwriting. Changes made in another person's handwriting will not be considered valid, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1575.

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Extrinsic Evidence

If the date on the will is incomplete or unclear, the court may use extrinsic evidence, or evidence outside of the olographic will itself, to determine when the will was written, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1575. Since the last will to be made governs how the testator's property will be distributed, it is important to make the date clear on an olographic will and to note that the will revokes any and all previously made wills, according to the Louisiana State Bar Association.

Notarization and Witnesses

Unlike a notarial will, an olographic will does not need to be witnessed or notarized to be valid in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1575. Any will that does not meet the requirements for an olographic will, however, must be signed by two witnesses and by a notary, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1577. Testators who cannot write cannot make olographic wills and must have their wills notarized, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1578 through 1580.

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