Last wills and testaments have traveled a varied path throughout their existence from oral to handwritten to typewritten to word processed. Handwritten wills are known as holographic wills, but they are not valid in each of the fifty states.
What Are Holographic Wills?
Holographic wills are written entirely by hand by the individual whose will it is. Specific rules apply to this document within each state that accepts it in order for it to be considered valid. Today, holographic wills are uncommonly used, primarily because of the abundance of computerized programs, preprinted forms, estate planners, and estate lawyers.
What Is the Validity of Holographic Wills?
Not very many states still accept this type of document as valid. However, in the states that do, each of the requirements must be met in order for the document to be legally binding. Although these requirements vary from state to state, common specifications do exist.
In particular, most states include the requirement that the will must be signed by the individual who created the document. If it has not been signed by this person, it will not be considered valid, even if witnesses exist who can attest to the fact that the person did indeed write it.
A holographic will, like most valid wills, must be dated with the month, day, and year. If this information is not included, it could affect the validity of the document negatively causing it not to be valid.
Criteria must also be met that proves that the testator is the person who wrote the will. While this criterion varies from state to state, common measure do apply. The most common methods used to determine whether or not the testator handwrote the will are: witnesses, handwriting experts, and death-bed composition.
Additionally, a requirement exists in certain states that the entire document must be handwritten. In some states, California for one, only the portions that make the document a valid one must be handwritten.
What Are the Disadvantages of Holographic Wills?
One of the possible disadvantages of a holographic will is that the wording might not be clear enough to achieve the intended action. If the statements within the document are misinterpreted, then the property might not be dispersed as intended.
Another possible disadvantage is that the holographic will might not be considered valid if some of the terms and requirements were not followed properly. Not every individual who creates this type of document is aware that these requirements exist or that they must be followed to the letter.
A third potential problem comes into play if the individual moves from one state to another. Since each of the fifty states do not accept holographic wills as valid documents, the possibility exists that the document might not hold its validity in the new state of residence. This means that even if the document is valid in the initial state of residence, it might not be valid in the second state of residence and a new will have to be drafted.
What States Do Not Accept Holographic Wills as Valid?
A number of states do not accept holographic wills to be valid under any circumstances. These states include: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
A number of states accept holographic wills to be valid under special circumstances. These states include the following: Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina.
A number of states accept holographic wills to be valid as long as the state's requirements have been met. These states are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, 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, and Wyoming.