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What’s a holographic will, and are they legal?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Wills

Many people understand the concept of a traditional will when they think about estate planning. However, there is another type of will that you may have heard of but might not fully understand: the holographic will.

Before you finalize your estate plan, you should understand holographic wills and the laws surrounding their use.

What is a holographic will?

A holographic will is a handwritten will created by the testator themselves and written by hand. The term “holographic” comes from the Greek words “holos,” meaning whole, and “graphein,” meaning to write.

What are the legal requirements for a holographic will?

In Virginia, a holographic will must have the testator’s signature. There should also be two independent parties to attest to the validity of the document. The court may call upon those individuals to confirm the intent and authenticity of a holographic will if questions arise.

What are some challenges of a holographic will?

Despite the fact that Virginia recognizes holographic wills, they can face challenges in court. Handwritten wills may be difficult to read or interpret, leading to disputes among beneficiaries. Additionally, without witnesses, it can be challenging to prove that the testator was of sound mind and not under duress when creating the will.

While holographic wills may seem like a simple solution for those who want to create a will without the assistance of legal professionals, they come with risks and limitations. You should understand the legal requirements for a holographic will in Virginia before you decide to include one in your estate plan.