Holographic Wills- Are They Something to Write Home About?

If you’ve seen many movies, watched much television, or read many books, you may have witnessed a scene where a character stumbles upon a dusty, crumpled handwritten Will tucked away in a pile of papers just after someone has passed away. The character dusts the Will off and reads the decedent’s handwriting only to learn that he or she has just inherited a fortune. Many people may believe that this scene just like the handwritten Will is only a Hollywood fabrication. However, surprisingly enough, handwritten wills are not just “made-for-tv.” These types of wills can be valid under the law.

Holographic wills, the legal name for handwritten wills, are indeed valid in Tennessee. While a holographic will may be valid, it must meet certain requirements for a probate court to accept it as valid. The first requirement of a valid holographic will is that all the material portions of the will must be in the handwriting of the testator, or the person making the will. The second requirement is that the will must include the testator’s signature. The third and final requirement for a valid holographic will in Tennessee is that the testator’s handwriting must be proved by two witnesses.

Well that sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Not exactly. While holographic wills can be a quick and easy way to convey your assets upon death, there can be a number of issues that can affect the validity of a holographic will. Not every holographic will may meet the legal requirements under Tennessee law. The person making a handwritten will may forget to sign his or her name incorrectly thinking that merely identifying himself or herself should suffice. A person may incorrectly think that he or she could type up a will and sign it. A person may not have at least two people to identify his or her handwriting. If a judge does not find that the holographic will meets all of the requirements under the law, he or she may find that the handwritten will is not valid. Without a valid will, the state would then divide the assets according to the statutes disregarding any desires of the testator.

While there are a number of issues affecting the validity of the will itself, there may be other problems that involve the content of a holographic will. Many people may inadvertently leave out people or specific assets from their holographic will. A person may forget to nominate a potential guardian for any minor children left without a parent. Some of those making a holographic will may leave instructions that are either unclear or contradictory. Unfortunately, the court could be left to interpret any mistakes affecting the content. As a result, the court may not honor the distribution of your property exactly according to your wishes.

Knowing the potential problems that may arise with the validity and content of holographic wills, a will from an experienced Tennessee wills lawyer can save you the stress and trouble of any issues associated with your holographic will. The Tennessee wills attorneys can ensure that your assets and property will be distributed according to your desires rather than leaving such an important decision up to a court. We would be happy to discuss all of your potential wills options.