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What is a Holographic Will and Why Should I Not Use One?

 Posted on May 13, 2022 in Wills

CA estate lawyerYou may or may not have heard the term “holographic will” before. No, it is not a high-tech device that presents your final wishes using a hologram. Rather, a holographic will is a handwritten will made and executed by the testator alone. It need not comply with all the legal formalities required to make any other type of will, such as being witnessed by two people.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of ways for this to go wrong. Holographic wills are generally used only in emergency situations where the testator knows that they are dying and do not have the time or ability to find a lawyer and create a formal will. Really, a holographic will should never be used if you can avoid it. It can be extremely difficult to prove that these documents are valid and extremely easy to successfully challenge one. Your best bet is to work with an estate planning attorney rather than taking a DIY approach to such an important legal matter.

Why is Making a Holographic Will Not a Good Idea?

In many ways, creating a valid and enforceable holographic will is much more difficult than making a will in a lawyer’s office. The only time you should consider doing this is if you are facing imminent death and you have absolutely no other option. If you have been stranded in the desert for a week with little hope of rescue, it may be worth a shot. Otherwise, it probably is not a good idea.

In California, a holographic will must be in the testator’s handwriting with limited exceptions if the testator used a form. It must be abundantly clear that you intended this document to be your will and that you are the one who wrote and signed it. The hard part may be proving that you had the mental capacity to create a will and were not under duress when you wrote it. Because holographic wills do not need to be witnessed, there may not be anyone who can vouch that you knew what you were doing. For these reasons, challenges to holographic wills often succeed.

What Should I Do Instead?

A lawyer can help you create a much stronger and more legally sound will. Attorneys are familiar with the legal requirements and can help establish proof that you were of sound mind and acted of your own free will. Working with an attorney is probably the best way to make sure that your will is legally sound and enforceable.

Call an L.A. County Wills Attorney

Law Office of David Schechet will work closely with you to create an estate plan that you are satisfied with. Our Los Angeles estate planning lawyers are skilled at creating wills that comply with all legal requirements. Contact us at 800-282-4731 for a free consultation.



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