Think a Handwritten Will Is All You Need? Here Are the Dangers from an Milford Estate Planning Attorney
- By Steven Rubin
- Posted October 24, 2022
There are many reasons why some people might find the idea of a handwritten will attractive. Also known as holographic wills, handwritten wills might seem cheaper and simpler to execute than non-holographic wills. However, handwritten wills are not legally valid in every state. Furthermore, in the states that do recognize handwritten wills, there are a number of guidelines to which they must adhere in order to be considered legitimate. More often than not, handwritten wills lead to serious complications that make distributing the estate much more difficult after the testator has passed. For estate planning services including wills and trust preparation services contact us.
Mistakes Are Common in Handwritten Wills
If you write your will out by hand, the chance of making mistakes tends to increase. You may, for example, use incorrect language that can call the validity of the will into question. Furthermore, if your handwriting is not perfectly legible, a handwritten will can easily cause a lot of confusion and may eventually lead to a drawn-out probate court battle.
Validity Can Be Difficult to Prove
If you intend to make your handwritten will the document that serves as your official last will and testament, you need to take steps to make that intention perfectly clear. In general, that means you must:
- Compose the will entirely in your own handwriting - Making changes to your will by crossing sections out or writing over parts of it will make the document far more difficult to read, leading to confusion and opening it up to dispute. If you wish to make changes, you’ll need to rewrite the entire will by hand. Furthermore, you should never combine handwritten and typed parts of your will. Choose one or the other.
- Sign the will yourself - If the will does not contain your signature, it will be invalid.
- Include the same basic components as any will - You must name heirs for your property and assets, appoint guardians for any minor children, and choose someone to serve as executor of your will.
- Have your will witnessed according to state law - Failing to obtain proper witnesses can make your will’s validity questionable.
When making a will on your own, it can be difficult to keep from making mistakes or overlooking these requirements. Our estate planning attorneys provide will preparation services to help ensure costly mistakes are not made.
Because holographic wills often lack clarity, there are many reasons a beneficiary might contest a handwritten document. Even in states in which handwritten wills are valid, many people consider them less authoritative than a document that is created with the assistance of a Milford estate planning attorney. In such situations, even when it comes to relatively simple aspects of your estate, disputes among your heirs can become heated.
If you are contemplating creating a will, contact a Milford estate planning attorney who can advise you on how to write a document that you can be sure will be binding and legally enforceable. This can give you the peace of mind that you are making your intentions clear so that your final wishes can be carried out as smoothly as possible.