Although uncommon, it is possible to formulate a handwritten will should you so choose to have one. Holographic wills, as they are officially called, are valid in about half of U.S. states (Texas being one) if the testator (writer of the will) follows the listed criteria:
- Must be at least 18 years of age.
- Must be of sound mind when having written the will (verified by at least two witnesses).
The will itself must follow the following criteria:
- Must have been handwritten by, and only by, the testator. According to some states, the testator is only legally obligated to write the material portion of the will.
- Revisions within the will must be handwritten by the testator.
- Must be dated by the testator.
- The handwriting of the testator must be verified by a witness with no stake in the will.
- In some jurisdictions, the will must be handwritten in its entirety in the presence of a witness (again with no stake in the will).
As stated before, holographic wills are rare due to the number of drawbacks they present. They tend to be much more scrutinized than those that are typed due to the ambiguity surrounding the former. Also, they are rarely valid due to their not following the criteria in order to be recognized by the state. These reasons usually lead for the court to misconstrue provisions laid forth in a will that are in direct opposition to what the testator’s wishes originally were. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that if the court deems the holographic will to be invalid for not following the criteria, it will recognize the will to never having existed at all; a status known as intestate, where a person dies without having written a will.
Don’t let the courts dismiss your will after you pass. Let the experienced probate and wills attorneys of McAllen’s Barrera, Sanchez & Associates assist you in preparing one. Contact us at (956) 287-7555.