Can Wills be handwritten?


According to many newspaper reports, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, left an $80 million estate, and no will… Subsequent reports revealed that she had in fact left 3 last will and testaments, with one stuffed down her sofa! The news led many people to question whether, in the age of technology, if handwritten wills are still valid? And the answer is… it depends… explains how handwritten wills (known as holographic wills) are valid depending in which US state you reside.  Some states permit wills that are entirely handwritten by the testator. 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
  •  Wyoming

The main requirement for a holographic will is that it must be written entirely in the handwriting on the will-maker or testator. The probate court will decline the document if it is typewritten and in the case of a will that contains both typing and handwriting, the court will typically ignore the typewritten provisions. Note that the signing of a holographic will document does not need to be witnessed, however, some states require it to be dated. Despite this, a holographic will usually requires at least two people to testify that it was, in fact written in the original handwriting of the deceased.


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