What is a Holographic Will and is it legal?

Estate Planning

Most people don’t like to think about creating a will. However, waiting until the last minute can result in not having any end-of-life security. Even worse, it could force you to try cutting corners and make you think you are prepared when you aren’t.

One such manner of cutting corners is not using an attorney and trying to write your own will.  Generally, when you write your own will, this is called a “holographic” will.

Unfortunately, many states don’t recognize these types of wills and will most likely deny any wishes that are listed within.  Instead the court will follow the laws of the state regarding how your estate will be divided up, which may not be what you wanted at all. Even if your state does accept them, they often create even bigger headaches for your family to deal with when you are gone. That’s why it’s essential to clear up the misunderstanding surrounding this type of will.

What complications might arise from a Holographic Will?

Most states won’t recognize holographic wills under any circumstances, even if they were executed in a country or state that does recognize them as valid. Since the holographic will is generally not witnessed or notarized, the states do not want to take the risk of following it. This opens the door for fake wills to be admitted to probate to benefit certain beneficiaries and cause fraud on the court.

Although initially it seems like a much simpler way of making a will, especially when it is needed quickly, it comes with many complications. In states where the family can try to admit the will into the court, the judge may have difficulty reading the handwriting of the person who wrote it. In addition, the court may need to bring in witnesses who can testify that they knew the individual who wrote the will and that they can verify the writing belonged to that person. There is also usually no one that can attest to the individual’s mental state or intent when the will was written which allows these wills to be easily challenged by other potential beneficiaries.

How do you create a valid Will?

If you are looking to have a valid will created, as a general rule, most states require the


  • The individual must be at least 18 years old or be an emancipated minor
  • Be of sound mind, meaning you must be able to understand the extent and nature of the property the will covers and who will inherit your property.
  • The will must be signed in the presence of two competent witnesses
  • You must be signing the will on your own and voluntarily
  • The witnesses must sign the will in your presence and in the presence of each other.

Keep in mind that many states also require the witnesses’ signatures to be notarized. The witnesses may not be allowed to be recipients of any property listed in the will.

How can I get help creating a legally binding Will?

When it comes to creating a will, you can save yourself and your loved ones a lot of confusion and time by working with an experienced estate planning attorney. Not only can they ensure that your documents are prepared correctly, but they can also make sure they follow state guidelines

and meet your specific needs and desires.

Contact us today so we can get started securing your and your family’s future.

At Pecori & Pecori, we help you protect, plan and prosper.

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