A handwritten will, known as a holographic will in legal terms, is just as valid as any other type of will, provided certain requirements are met. Though a holographic will indicates by its nature that the testator (the deceased person) did not seek estate planning help from an experienced probate attorney, a handwritten will can theoretically serve the purpose of passing property to certain intended recipients.
What are the requirements of a handwritten will?
In Texas, a handwritten will may be found valid and enforceable by a court if all the following statements are true:
- The handwritten will is wholly in the handwriting of the testator
- The handwritten will is signed by the testator
- The will is either self-proving or two witnesses are available to testify as to the testator’s handwriting
- The testator was at least eighteen years of age, married or a member of the U.S. armed forces at the time the will was written
- The testator was of sound mind at the time the will was written
If any part of the will is typed or written by someone other than the testator, the will is not considered a holographic will and must meet the additional requirements of having two witnesses attest to the will at the same time the testator signed the will.
Seriously, what could go wrong?
It’s perfectly legal to write your own will, but just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s advisable. You could also legally remove your own tonsils or hang out on the beach during a hurricane. The risks of making a will without skilled legal advice are that important parts of the will may be confusing (and thus, unenforceable) and critical clauses may be left out altogether. Handwritten wills are more often the subject of probate litigation than not, because testators simply aren’t trained to follow the strict legal requirements of making a will.
The better course of action is to seek the advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer to draft your will and any other documents which may be necessary to help you minimize future probate expenses and make the estate distribution process as smooth as possible for your loved ones.
Call for estate planning and will making advice
Our experienced Bryan-College Station, Texas estate planning attorneys provide information and assistance to guide you in making a will and developing a comprehensive estate plan. Call Peterson Law Group at 979-703-7014 to make an appointment, or fill out our online contact form to request a consultation.