Ruth-Ann E. Toups
You Can Write a Will Here There and Everywhere!
Can you write a will in your car? Sure! Can you write a will on a napkin at a bar? Absolutely! Can you write a will on jar? Definitely! Should you write a will in your car, on a napkin at a bar, or on a jar? Probably not.
Handwritten wills, known as holographic wills, can be valid in Texas if they meet all the legal requirements. However, they can also create more issues than they solve. Holographic wills require many more steps to probate. More individuals must attend the hearing, more individuals must be notified, and more individuals’ consent is required to avoid the executor having to post bond and be under court supervision. Generally, the increased costs at probate make a hand written will much more expensive than a typed and witnessed (attested) will.
Additionally, when you take writing a will into your own hands, your common sense may steer you in the wrong direction. In almost every other aspect of our lives, specific over general is preferred. We want to make sure everyone understands exactly what service they are providing or receiving. When writing a will, however, listing every item or piece of property you own can open you up to partial intestacy when you forget to list one tract of property or a bank account. Now, even though you have a will, the left out property may be going to someone other than who you named in your handwritten will and will require a pretty complex partial intestacy probate proceeding.
Finally, holographic wills are also more likely to be challenged. First, a holographic will does not have to be witnessed or notarized. Without these three disinterested parties present, it is easier to assert that someone either did not write a will themselves, was coerced to write a will, or did not have capacity to write a will. Second, a holographic will can open a Pandora’s box of handwriting analysis challenges.
While a holographic will can sometimes be better than no will at all it is certainly not the preferred method.