How to Write a Holographic Will

There are many reasons why not to write a holographic will, such as the intense legal scrutiny handwritten wills come under. It is, however, a valid option, as long as the rules for the particular state are followed so that it can hold up in court as a valid will. Some states may not recognize a holographic will. Here's what you need to know in general about writing an effective one:

No Witness Necessary

When you use a word processor to prepare a will, you need the signature of one or more witnesses. That's to protect you from heirs typing a will and impersonating you. When you write a holographic will, no witnesses are required. Your handwriting is sufficient to attest that you are the one preparing the will, at least in theory. Many of the battles in probate court have to do with verifying that you were the one who wrote the will, and that it wasn't forged. It's one of the reasons why many judges prefer a typed will with witnesses.

Writing the Entire Will

Many states that recognize holographic wills require that the entire will needs to be in your handwriting. You can't type some portions and write out other portions by hand. Some states, however, will allow a fill in the blank form for a holographic will. Legibility is important in either case, because a judge may decide his own ruling on certain provisions, if the handwriting is not clear. Cursive or print is acceptable for a holographic will, but the key is to make it readable throughout.

Will Provisions

The following needs to be included in the will to make it valid or to instruct the court on how you want your assets divided:

  • Date
  • Signature
  • Statement that is the same or similar to "This is my last will and testament."
  • Name of the guardian to be appointed over the children, if applicable
  • Disposition of real estate property, such as, "I want my farm to go to my __."
  • Disposition of personal property
  • Name of the executor of the estate

Your signature has to match the legal name that's written in the will, so be sure not to sign a nickname or use an alternate name. You also have to be at least 18 years old as of the date on the will, and be of sound mind. It’s not a bad idea to include a statement such as, “I, ___, being of sound mind…”

Additional Statements

You don't have to go into why you're disposing of property a certain way, but one way to avoid confusion and a successful legal contest is to state why you're disinheriting someone from the will. An heir may challenge the will saying that you weren't of sound mind, because they were disinherited from the will and that would never be your intention. Making a simple statement as to the reason why, or just stating the fact that you're not including them in the will on purpose, is often effective in blocking arguments against the validity of your will.

It's not necessary to hire a lawyer to write a will that is not a holographic will. If finances are concern, then consider will preparation software programs or books with sample forms and wills.







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