Holographic wills: A valid but risky alternative

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Everyone has been told at some point to “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” The universal adage applies to the formation of a will. Many people do not want to think about the topic, but those who prepare a valid will and other estate planning documents can see many benefits for themselves and their loved ones.

In this post, we will briefly discuss holographic, or hand-written wills. These present an attractive but risky alternative to formal wills.

Will requirements

All formal wills in Texas must satisfy certain requirements. These include age (18, married, or in the military), the intent to write a will, three requirements collectively termed as being of “sound mind,” and two witness over age 14.

However, Texas courts may recognize holographic wills in some cases. These handwritten wills can avoid some of the requirements of fomal wills, but they have requirements of their own.

Handwritten wills do not require a witness. However, they must contain specific information: a title, an opening line, a description of the property transferred to each beneficiary, and a residuary clause. Holographic wills must also state that they revoke any prior wills, and any prior will must be physically destroyed.

Legal bases for challenges

Although they may seem easier in some ways, holographic wills are open to legal challenges in ways that more formal wills are not. First, a person with legal right or standing to contest the will could argue the handwriting does not match that of the deceased. Second, a disinherited heir, for example, may contend the deceased lacked the “sound mind” requirement, that another person had undue influence over the deceased.

By planning your will carefully, you can prevent difficult legal disputes over your estate. These disputes can tear a family apart. A law firm with knowledge of wills and estate planning can explain how a formal will serves as the most effective instrument to ensure your intent.