If you are planning your estate, you may realize that there isn’t a lot of property to leave to your survivors. It’s understandable to want to have a stress-free option for creating your will in these cases. You may be wondering if you can just handwrite a will and be done with it, avoiding all the hassle that comes with planning for your passing. Although handwritten wills may be acceptable in about half of the states, it’s still a good idea to get guidance from a lawyer for any type of estate planning.
Can You Handwrite a Will?
Currently, handwritten wills are legal in about 25 states. These wills are generally unwitnessed and are also referred to as “holographic” wills. For these wills to be considered valid, they must be written and signed by the person making the will, meaning that they don’t require a witness. Depending on the state, it may also need to be dated. Certain states will even allow you to use fill-in-the-blank forms if the will is properly dated and signed and a portion of it is written out. Unfortunately, if you have a disability that prevents you from writing you will not be able to use a holographic will, even if it is valid in your state.
The Validity of a Holographic Will
The validity of a holographic will can be called into question easily – and for several reasons – after the decedent has passed. The lack of a witness being present during the signing of a will can pose problems. Aside from this, a handwriting sample may need to be submitted and examined if there’s an argument about the soundness of the will. Additionally, there can be questions regarding intent since the will was not witnessed and was handwritten. There’s little to differentiate a holographic will from just some scribbled notes. If it’s thought that you meant to create a proper will, but didn’t get around to it, a holographic will can be challenged.
Although a holographic will may be better than nothing – assuming that it’s valid in your state – a legal will that has been signed in front of a witness will be much better. Probate courts may be especially strict when it comes to examining a handwritten will due to its informality. Unfortunately, it’s easy to write something that may be too vague or obscure for your wishes to be upheld. If you have questions regarding your will or estate planning, make sure to speak with a lawyer, like a probate attorney in Allentown, PA, to get legal help.
Thank you to the experts at Klenk Law for their input into estate planning, wills, and probate law.