The Dangers of Handwritten Wills

Trouble began to stir not long after the passing of television host Larry King earlier this year. Why? He had a handwritten will. This will stated that his estate was to be divided between his surviving children, something his soon to be ex-wife did not take kindly to. The will King signed in 2015 named her as the executor; things changed for the family once the two separated. Should King’s wishes stated in the handwritten will be legally considered? This dispute causes issues with many families when it comes time to execute an estate plan.

There are many steps involved in creating a proper, legal will. None of these steps normally involve the finished product being handwritten and unnotarized. It’s in the best interest of your family to make sure your will is done correctly, to ensure the best possible outcomes for them as they continue their lives. If all you have right now is something you crafted on your own, it’s time to start thinking about turning that into something more concrete.

What is a Holographic Will?

When a person writes a will by hand with no witness or notarization, this is called a holographic will. A handwritten will does not necessarily mean it’s not valid, and the laws that address holographic wills vary by state. Some people may not have access to typical methods of estate planning, and feel as though they don’t have much of a choice as to how to record their last wishes if they do so at all. No matter how you do your will, the most important thing is ensuring that it can be legally executed by your heirs. Sometimes it can be necessary to make a will this way, if, for example, you were in an unexpected situation where the fear of sudden death is warranted. But for the average American, it’s best to stick to a classic, formal estate plan.

If you do die with a holographic will, it could mean trouble for your loved ones, just as it has with the family of Larry King. They will have to jump through a few extra hoops to begin the execution process, and it might elicit some conflict with your heirs. The court will need witnesses to prove that you did indeed write this will yourself and that it actually is a will to begin with. In order for it to even be considered, clear, explicit language needs to be used declaring your last will and testament, your executor, intent to leave property or belongings to specific heirs, and last but not least, your signature. And any number of accidental missteps could deem the document invalid. To prevent this from happening, choosing a different method of estate planning will be the way to go.

One reason why someone might have a handwritten will is because they didn’t have access to an estate planning attorney, didn’t know how to get started, or thought it would be simpler to just write one out themselves. With Endowl’s one-of-a-kind app, you can create your estate plan on your own with ease. Our online notarization services make it easy to confirm that your will is valid. Protect your assets, connect with your heirs, and rest assured that your family won’t have to deal with extra stressors after your pass away.

Don’t settle for a holographic will and hope for the best. If you have the option, do it the right way. Choose Endowl for the best estate planning experience the internet has to offer.

Photo by Aaron Burden