What States Accept Holographic Wills?

By A.L. Kennedy

A holographic -- also called "olographic" in Louisiana -- will is written in the handwriting of the testator, or the person making the will. Not all states recognize a holographic will as valid. The states that do recognize them have differing requirements for what constitutes a proper holographic will. For instance, some states require that the entire will be handwritten, while others require only that "material provisions" be in the testator's handwriting.

A holographic -- also called "olographic" in Louisiana -- will is written in the handwriting of the testator, or the person making the will. Not all states recognize a holographic will as valid. The states that do recognize them have differing requirements for what constitutes a proper holographic will. For instance, some states require that the entire will be handwritten, while others require only that "material provisions" be in the testator's handwriting.

Entire Will

States that require that the entire will be in the testator's handwriting may not recognize the will if you use a preprinted will form to handwrite your will, as the preprinted portions would not be in your handwriting and may invalidate the will. States that require the entire holographic will to be in the testator's handwriting include Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, according to LawChek.

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Material Portions

Some states accept a holographic will even if it is not entirely in the testator's handwriting, as long as "material portions" -- such as the testator's signature, the date and the parts of the will that designate an executor or guardian or that distribute property to certain people -- are handwritten, according to the American Bar Association. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, according to LawChek.

Special Requirements

A handful of states accept a holographic will that is entirely or partially handwritten if certain requirements are met. Connecticut, Hawaii, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin do not accept holographic wills made in-state, but accept holographic wills if they were made in states that allow them. Arkansas accepts a holographic will only if there are three witnesses to testify that the will is in the testator's handwriting; Texas and Tennessee require two witnesses; California invalidates a holographic will if it is not dated; finally, New York and Maryland only accept holographic wills made by members of the Armed Forces, and these wills are only good for 1 year from the date they are made, according to LawChek.

Holographic Wills Prohibited

The remaining 16 states do not accept holographic wills as valid under any circumstances. These states are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island, according to LawChek.

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States Where Holographic Wills Are Legal

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