Are Handwritten Wills Valid?

If you do not have very much property in your estate, you still should create a will to designate who will receive what. However, you may be wondering if you can just create a handwritten will, rather than going to a lot of fuss for your small estate. The answer to this question is a bit more complicated than you might expect. This guide will provide you with all the information you need if you find yourself in this situation.

Handwritten Wills

The type of will you are thinking of is called a “holographic will.” To be more specific, a holographic will is a will that is simple, handwritten, and not signed by any witnesses. Ordinarily, a will must be signed by two witnesses to be considered legal. These witnesses must also see you sign and date your will. Finally, the witnesses cannot be anyone who would receive any possessions or money through your will.

Holographic wills need only to have your signature in your handwriting. However, there are only 27 states that will honor any holographic wills that are created. The states that allow them are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

However, it is important to understand the drawbacks of a holographic will. They may be simple to create, but probate courts usually are much stricter on holographic wills. Because there is less to confirm and secure them, the courts need to scrutinize them carefully to be absolutely certain that no mistakes are made or any fraud takes place. It is possible that your will does not stand up to scrutiny and will be invalidated.

It is much safer to have a wills and trusts lawyer, like a wills and trusts lawyer in Sacramento, CA, take a look at your will or assist in its creation. This will make it much more likely that your final wishes are carried out exactly as you want them to be. Because a will is a legal document, many people do not have a good understanding of how to state what they wish to happen in the right legal terms. Sometimes people even have misconceptions of what power their will has and try to make wishes that are not valid. For example, a will cannot make your desires for your funeral official. You must also make state who the executor of your will is and make sure your executor knows where you will be keeping your will. An attorney can help with this matter too.

Thanks to Yee Law Group, PC for their insight into handwritten wills.