What is a Holographic Will?

A holographic will is a personal handwritten will that has been signed by the testator (the person writing the will). While a formal will requires the addition of witness signatures, a holographic will does not. In some cases, if proven to be legitimate, the holographic will is treated the same as formal wills executed by your lawyer.

How do I ensure that a handwritten will is honored after my death?

There are several requirements that ensure that a will is honored:

  1. You must be able to prove you actually wrote and signed the will. This can be done by hand-writing experts. You can also provide and name witnesses to the writing.
  2. You must be mentally capable to make the decisions involved in the writing of a will and the disposition of your property.
  3. You must be expressing a wish to distribute your property to beneficiaries.

 What are the pitfalls involved?

Not all jurisdictions will recognize a holographic will. A will of this type can be more easily challenged by virtually anyone. If you have an existing will that was written by an attorney, a judge could be persuaded to honor the more legal document. A holographic will is generally written during times of great distress or danger.

An example of creating a holographic will under duress would be in the few minutes when you know that your plane is about to crash. You may write a note stating that your immediate family is to inherit all of your earthly possessions. A business partner, for example, would be prone to contest this, especially if you have contracts in place for how your business is to be split after a partner’s death.

Another example of a holographic will comes in the form of a video will. Generally this happens when there is no paper available. People in the armed services are usually granted the largest berth when it comes to creating video wills. People that are trapped, lost, kidnapped or imprisoned also fall into this category. There are time limits set by some jurisdictions for these types of holographic wills.

 Who should I notify of the will’s existence?

The hard truth of the matter is that you may not be able to notify anyone, especially if you’re in a life or death situation and come to the realization that you’ve never drafted a will! If that’s the case, you’ll have to hope that your handwritten or typed last wishes will somehow make it into the right hands and will also stand up in court. This is all assuming that your holographic will survives the tragic event(s) that caused you to lose your life.

The best way to go?

 We all live busy lives, filled with activities and work. Once you reach a point where you own assets to dispose of, it falls on you to make it easier for your loved ones when you do depart this earth. Therefore, there is no better alternative than to make time to sit down with your lawyer and write a formal will.

Yes, there are online wills that can be downloaded and filled out. There are packages that can be purchased from your local bookstores that will direct you how to fill out a will that should stand up to probate. Our recommendation? Don’t wait until you’re looking death in the eye to scribble out a few lines saying everything goes to my wife. Don’t take chances with your Estate; you deserve the peace of mind that comes with having your will professionally written and witnessed.

 

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