Is my Handwritten Will Acceptable?
Every state has its own set of probate laws that govern how an estate is established, maintained, and administered. The probate court sets up the rules for estate planning. Then, all of the paperwork involving the estate of someone who has recently passed on has to be reviewed. It must be approved by the probate court before the estate can be closed.
A will is a set of instructions that represent your last wishes. Your will needs to be accepted as genuine. It must meet all of the legal guidelines set out by the probate court. Most states require a will to be signed and witnessed by a notary, and then filed with the probate court. But there are some states that have very lenient rules as to what constitutes a legal will. For example, some states allow a handwritten will to be legal.
A Holographic Will
A handwritten will is referred to in probate courts as a holographic will. While most people picture a long and involved process for creating a legal will, the truth is that some states consider handwritten wills more reliable because they are written by the hand of the estate owner.
A standard will that is typed out on a computer requires several different types of signatures to be legal. A handwritten will, for the most part, does not require witnesses and can stand on its own with just the signature of the will writer. The only thing the probate court will need to verify a handwritten will in most states is proof that the will was written by the estate owner.
How Does It Work?
There are no concrete set of rules that states that allow holographic wills use. Some states will allow a will to be partially handwritten with no signature to be legal, while other states require the entire will to be handwritten, time stamped, and signed by the writer to be legal. You will have to look up the specific rules for wills in your state, or talk to an attorney, to get the right answer.
It Is Not Always Smooth
A handwritten will sounds like an easy way to dictate your final wishes. However, there are two major problems that come with holographic wills. The first problem is that even though some states allow holographic wills. Probate judges are hesitant to accept them. Proving they were written by the estate owner is difficult. Also, a lack of a signature can make their legitimacy questionable.
The other problem is that probate judges tend to not accept them where there is a considerable estate involved. When an estate requires complex instructions for the distribution of real estate, cash, and other assets, judges tend to become hesitant with holographic wills.
Our firm can help you avoid the problems that come with a holographic will. We can also help you to put together a will that can stand up in probate. Let our experienced Bonita Springs Asset Protection Attorneys help you to create a proper estate and leave no question as to your final wishes.