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Thinking About Getting a Holographic Will? What To Know

by Layla Bryant

It's important to leave behind instructions on what to do with your property after you pass away. Some might say that a handwritten or holographic will is better than nothing. The way holographic wills are treated varies from state to state and can sometimes be affected by the will's contents. Read on to find out more.

Why Have a Holographic Will?

Many people prefer to keep their financial affairs as private as possible and that can result in a handwritten will. Still, others are wary of having to pay someone to help them make out a will and think they can save money by doing it themselves. Such DIY efforts have resulted in will kits. These kits are meant to bypass professional legal help using fill-in-the-blank forms. If you intend to use such a kit, be sure you understand what the laws in your state say about them. This type of will is classified as a holographic will and that might mean that it must be handwritten in its entirety. Also, holographic wills, in some locations, cannot be produced using a word processing program. In most cases, however, holographic wills do not require witnesses as those created in a law office do.

States That Don't Allow Holographic Wills

If your loved one presents a holographic will in certain states, the deceased will automatically be declared as passing away without a valid will, or intestate. Every state has probate procedures that address intestate estates. In most cases, the estate passes to any living current spouse. If there is no spouse, it goes to any natural-born adult children in equal portions.

States That Do Allow Holographic Wills

Even states that allow people to produce their own hand-drawn wills have procedures for validating the will during probate. All states have regulations that define a valid will and it goes beyond signatures. Since many people don't understand the sometimes archaic probate laws of their state, there is always a chance that their holographic will might contain illegal provisions and be ruled invalid.

Some states have an exception to probate law that honors holographic wills penned by active-duty military members for one year after they are discharged. Wills can be as simple or complex as you like and you can create a will that is at once legal and complete for your loved ones but professional legal advice is the key. Speak to an estate planning attorney about your will today.