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Richard C. James
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The importance of writing a will

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Estate Planning

A will is typically written with special care when a person is of sound mind. However, fatal accidents or illnesses can strike at any moment forcing a person to handwrite a will before they pass. However, it must meet the requirements of a holographic or handwritten will to be valid in court.

Requirements for a holographic will

In Texas, a holographic will is often valid if the testator, or the person who wrote the will, satisfies the following criteria:

  • The will is written entirely in their handwriting
  • The testator signs the will

Unlike traditional wills, a holographic will does not require witnesses, notarization, or to be dated. It can appear to be a fast and easy estate planning option, but most lawyers advise against it.

Holographic wills are challenging to prove in court because the testator often uses vague wording that only they can understand, which can cause readers of the will to be confused regarding the testator’s true intentions.

If the holographic will goes through probate, someone familiar with the testator’s handwriting will have to validate the will. Furthermore, the testator’s relatives may challenge the will and claim it fails to meet the basic conditions of creating a will.

Can a holographic will created before death replace a written will?

Suppose the testator has already crafted a will prior to the holographic will. In that case, they must write the holographic will entirely in their handwriting and specifically state that they intend to revoke the old version. If there is time, it will help to destroy every copy of the old will to avoid confusion.

If there is already a typed will, the testator may think that simply writing over it is enough. However, by Texas law, any handwritten changes made on a typed will and testament may not be valid in court. On the other hand, a testator can only make adjustments to a holographic will if those changes are also entirely written in their handwriting.

Writing a holographic or last-minute will rarely meet the needs of the testator. It is advisable to draw up a will ahead of time to allocate assets and fulfill legal requirements properly. Writing a will and testament is a very specific process that may be better with the help of an attorney.