How to Write a Holographic Will (with Examples)

A holographic will is personally written by the will owner, i.e., written in his own handwriting and language. Buzzle enlightens you on how to write a holographic will with examples.
OpinionFront Staff
Love Thy Wife
Vše ženě is the shortest will in the world, and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as a holographic will. The will (dated January 19, 1967) was written on the bedroom wall by Karl Tausch of Langen, Germany, who realized he was going to die. The statement means "Everything to wife" in Czech.
You need to know what a holographic will is, before understanding how to write one. In legal terms, a will is typewritten, modified, and drafted with the advice and suggestions of eminent attorneys. Even though whatever is written in the will is done so with the consent and approval of the owner, it is typewritten professionally as per the set rules. On the contrary, a holographic will is handwritten (and we do mean completely written by hand) and signed by the will owner. In fact, some wills do not even have the signature because the fact that the person wrote the entire document himself is proof enough. This kind of will is written during emergencies and unexpected circumstances when the will owner feels that he is going to die soon and he has not distributed his assets, as yet. In the following paragraphs, you will understand what a holographic will is, related guidelines, and the procedure to write one.
An Overview
  • A holographic will is written completely in one's own handwriting.
  • As mentioned earlier, this is done in case of emergencies, or in case the testator wants to bequeath his assets in his own way, and wants to put it in writing in his own language, which explains his intent clearly.
  • A 'holograph' means a document/manuscript/text that has been written by hand by the author of that piece. That is why it is called a 'holographic' will.
  • As of today, it is not legal in all states; it is not accepted in those states wherein the will is not in accordance with the state laws.
  • For example, a holographic will ideally require no witnesses. But in Alabama, the law requires that every will be witnessed by 2 people at least. Thus, a holographic will is not accepted in this state. Similarly, it does not follow the state laws of Delaware, and therefore, it is illegal in this state as well.
  • One of the main advantages of creating this kind of will is the less expense it involves. Another advantage is the convenience of writing it in your own way; in simple, lucid language, excluding the complicated legal jargon.
  • However, the will has its disadvantages too. It faces objections during probate, and may not be accepted for a number of reasons. In fact, even one small error in the will that is not in compliance with the state laws, may be a cause for its rejection.
  • If your handwriting is illegible or the will is disregarded, your property will be passed over to your legal heirs.
Requirements
The important holographic will requirements are stated below:
  1. The person writing the will must be above 18 years of age and must be in complete senses while doing so.
  2. A holographic will must be completely written (every single detail) in the testator's very own handwriting.
  3. If any previous wills exist, they must be revoked.
  4. Your beneficiaries must be properly identified. You also need to clearly testify that this is your "last will and testament."
  5. Depending on the state laws, it has to be signed and dated as well, again by the testator himself.
  6. It has to be written on proper, regular stationary, with the date and other text in the proper places.
  7. Such wills do not require witnesses, so do not waste time trying to get one.
  8. At the bottom of every page, write the page number.
  9. Use clear, simple language.
  10. It may require a subscribed signature, i.e., a sign at the back of the document, to prove that whatever is written after the sign is not a part of the will.
Guidelines to be Followed
There are some guidelines to writing a holographic will. Read the following points, which tell you the procedure of how to write this kind of will.

Step I
  • Take a blank sheet of regular paper. There should be nothing on it―no date, no letterhead, no symbols, nothing.
  • Leave some space on the top of the sheet and start writing the will.
  • Begin with "I, (your name), of (your address); write this holographic will with the intent that my assets be distributed in accordance with my wishes after my death. As of the current date, I am in a sound mental state and in complete consciousness while writing this will."
  • It would be even better to mention that you are still capable of taking care of yourself and your affairs (if you are, that is).
  • Your name should be your full name, as it appears on other important documents. Your address must be true and must include the city, county, and state.
Step II
  • You have to void any will that you have written before. This has to be stated in your holographic will.
  • Write this statement in the beginning itself. State, "This will automatically invalidates my previously signed 'Last Will and Testament' and declares it to be 'null and void'."
  • After that, write, "As to my personal possessions that will be left behind after my death, I hereby declare my intent regarding their disposition.".
  • After writing this, you can start the procedure of distributing your assets. You have to mention your spouse (if any), your children (if any), their guardians (in case of minors), legal executors, etc.
Step III
  • You have to state who is going to inherit what. This includes your bank accounts, deposits, real estate, etc.
  • You may write something like, "The entire funds in my bank account will be given to (write full names - wife, children, siblings, friends, etc.)" or "The stocks and bonds in my name will be given to (write full names - wife, children, siblings, friends, etc.)."
  • If you have a special property, say you were a collector of rare Chinaware or special books or any other personal property and you wish to bequeath it to someone, state accordingly. You may write something like, "I would like my gemstone collection to be given to (write full names - wife, children, siblings, friends, etc.)."
  • If you have anyone else to whom you would like to entrust your assets, mention the name of the beneficiary. If those investments/real estate/property is no longer yours (for whatever reason) at the time of your death, the beneficiary gets nothing.
  • If you have a particularly large investment and you want your kids to inherit the same, mention it separately and clearly. State, "I would like my investments in (bank/financial institution name) to be divided equally among all my children - (full names of children)."
Step IV
  • If there is someone you wish to disinherit from your property, state clearly.
  • You may write something like, "I have carefully considered and evaluated the needs and requirements of my (write full names - wife, children, siblings, friends, etc.) and prepared the will. Should anyone apart from the aforementioned names claim to be a beneficiary or a long-lost relative or an heir and try to invalidate my estate or threaten the property or contest any of my trust funds, the person should not be allowed to impair my estate or any property."
  • If you wish to exclude any known person from your estate, you need to state that as well.
Step V
  • After specifying all your beneficiaries and completing the disposition of all your assets, read the will completely to ensure the correctness and accuracy of the statements.
  • You can even mention why you are entrusting a particular property on someone in particular.
  • Sign the will, and put the date on top. State that this is your 'Last Will and Testament'.
  • You need not have any witnesses. Do not even have the will notarized. Your handwriting is evidence enough.
  • Store your will safely in the safe deposit box or cabinet.
  • Remember that not all states accept holographic wills as legal. They have separate state laws, and as the will does not comply with them, they are not accepted. Some states allow the wills to be probated as foreign wills.
Example
A holographic will example is given below for your understanding.

Date: January 19, 2015

This will void any Last Will and Testament I have previously signed, without any binding legal force.

I, Mr. John Doe, of 16, Main Street, Warring Heights, Apartment 501, Manhattan, New York City, New York, write this holographic will with the intent that my assets be distributed in accordance with my wishes after my death. As of the current date, I am in a sound mental state and in complete consciousness.

The entire amount from my bank accounts in Wilson Bank and City Bank, along with interest and other funds accrued until the time of my death, shall be bequeathed to my wife, Mrs. Katie John Doe.

My apartment in Warring Heights, Manhattan, shall be given to my son, Mr. Christian John Doe.

The funds obtained from my certificates of deposit shall be distributed equally among my wife, Mrs. Katie John Doe, and my son, Mr. Christian John Doe.

In the event that my son is married and has children at the time of my death, the funds from my certificates of deposit shall be equally distributed among my wife, Mrs. Katie John Doe, my son, Mr. Christian John Doe, my son's wife, and my grandchild/grandchildren - children of Mr. and Mrs. Christian John Doe.

My special book collection from Geneva, Switzerland, shall be given to my younger brother, Mr. Peter Edward Doe, residing in 123, Time Street, 'Frozen Home', Frankfurt, Kentucky.

I have carefully considered and evaluated the needs and requirements of my wife, Mrs. Katie John Doe, my son, Mr. Christian John Doe, my younger brother, Mr. Peter Edward Doe, and even my son's to-be-wife and children, and prepared the will. It is to be noted that my younger brother, Mr. Peter Edward Doe has no immediate family and anyone claiming to be my brother's heir has no stake whatsoever, in my assets. Should anyone apart from the aforementioned names claim to be a beneficiary or a long-lost relative or an heir and try to invalidate my estate or threaten the property or contest any of my trust funds, the person should not be allowed to impair my estate or any property.

Signature
JEDoe
Important Points to Consider
  • Even though holographic wills are advantageous in some ways, they have plenty of drawbacks.
  • Many legal procedures are not considered for such a will. Also, in case of passing money over to a minor, you are at a risk of handing the money to the child's guardian instead of maintaining the same in a proper trust.
  • Many other reasons stand forth in order to declare why a holographic will would be disallowed.
  • Also, such wills do not legally address the problem of taxation, executors, etc.
  • As there are no witnesses, no one can be brought forth to prove the validity of the will. Even though the handwriting can be verified by means of an expert, there is no one to testify on your behalf.
  • A lot of other mistakes can be made in holographic wills, and must be avoided and checked so that your family does not bear the burden of those mistakes later.
  • You need to make sure the will is free of ambiguity, and that you dispose off the entire estate.
  • No asset of yours should be left incomplete―your bank accounts, certificates of deposit, property, funds, insurance, etc., everything should be properly distributed.
  • You need to specify what must be done in case the property you have mentioned in the will does not belong to you at the time of your death. Or, the person to whom the property was bequeathed expires before you do. This clause is generally difficult to address in a holographic will.
  • Remember to properly mention the beneficiaries, guardians, and executors.
These days, hardly a minority of the population writes a holographic will. Most of them prefer writing a professional, typewritten, legally-verified will and testament. The former is certainly advantageous in emergencies, and as long as the will follows the established laws and rules and is very clearly worded, there is no reason why it should not be allowed.