A holographic will, or a handwritten will, is made entirely in the testator's handwriting and signed by the testator. It is valid in some jurisdictions but not in others. In the United States, holographic wills are only valid in about half of the states. Each state has its own laws governing the validity of holographic wills, but they are generally treated as valid, carrying minimal requirements, in states where they are allowed.
Why a Handwritten Will?
Handwritten wills are generally never a good idea and you should always consult with an experienced trust and estate planning attorney, rather than attempting yo write your own will. However, there may be instances where a person has elected to hand write their will and now you, as their family member, are left wondering whether it is valid.
Difficulties with Holographic Wills
There are a number of potential difficulties that can arise when attempting to probate a handwritten will. First, it can be challenging to determine whether the document was actually written by the testator. If the handwriting is unclear or there are any questionable signatures, this could lead to claims of forgery.
Second, handwritten wills are often very brief and lack the level of detail that is typically found in typed or professionally-prepared wills. This can make it challenging to understand the testator's wishes and intentions, which can lead to disputes among beneficiaries.
Does Virginia Accept Handwritten Wills?
The state of Virginia generally accepts handwritten wills as long as they meet the requirements outlined in the Virginia Code. In order for a holographic will to be valid, it must be written entirely in the testator's own handwriting. The holographic will does not need to be witnessed or signed by other parties; however, it must be proven to be written by the testator by two disinterested parties.
Contesting a Will in Harrisonburg, Virginia
When a loved one passes, their estate is typically distributed to their beneficiaries according to the terms of their will. However, there are occasions when beneficiaries may contest the will, claiming that it is invalid for one reason or another. If you find yourself in such a situation, the experienced will contest attorneys at Obenshain Law Group can help. We will review the facts of your case and work tirelessly to build a strong argument on your behalf.
If you are looking to contest a will, contact us at (540) 318-7360 or fill out our form online.