Hand Writing Your Own Will

Generally I would never recommend just writing a will alone, but a will in and of itself is better than nothing. The purpose of a will is that it at least lets your desires be known to the rest of world. It informs a court and your relatives who you want to have what when you die. However, just like when there is no will at all, it still must go through probate, usually costing a least a few thousand dollars. If however, you are comfortable with just leaving a will, and you feel that in your situation it is sufficient to hand write your own, there are a few things you should know. First, if you feel you have no other options, or you just don’t want to pay someone to help you draft a will, there is nothing wrong with hand writing your own will. Just know that there are things you probably won’t think of when doing so, and issues regarding distribution of your property may remain after your death. You may forget to dispose of something. You may overlook something. There are a lot of things you may not think about. I do understand, however, that someone may have perfectly legitimate reasons for writing their own will, and I fully comprehend when this may actually be the best option for some people (i.e. you don’t have a lot of stuff, none of your stuff needs to be probated, and you simply want to let your desires known to your kids and/or spouse). If this is the case; if you write you own will, there are some basic things you need to be aware of. First of all, unless you are going to have witnesses and a notary public, and you know the statutory requirements of what constitutes a valid will, if you write your own will, hand write 100% of it. Don’t type part of it and hand write another part of it. It must all be hand written. It must be signed by you, in your legal name. Don’t sign it, “Love, Mother”. Don’t sign it with your first name alone. Use your real name. Unless you sign your actual name it is invalid. In the event it needs to be probated, a court will throw it out and proceed as if it had never been written. Lastly, and most importantly, remember to date the will at the end. Without a date your will is invalid. I ran into this exact circumstance with a friend recently. Her mother had written out a will by hand but she failed to date it and she signed it “mom”. As a result the entire will is invalid. Her estate has to be probated and the will can never be introduced, so it is possible that her wishes won’t be fully granted. I just want you to be sure you know what you are doing when and if you decide to write your own will.

P.S. The official name for a handwritten will is “holographic will”.


About Ryan P. DeArman, Esq.

Ryan P. DeArman, Esq. Attorney At Law 2512 N. Moore Ave. Moore, OK 73160 405.501.7640 / 405.578.4336 fax rdearman@cox.net / www.rpdearmanlaw.com
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