Can a Holographic Will Be In Someone Else’s Handwriting?

A holographic will is a handwritten will that is not witnessed. The testator, the person who made the will, must write, date, and sign the entire will. This type of will is valid in any state, including the state of Texas. However, as with most wills, it must be proven to be your will and not a forgery before it can become effective. But must the will be entirely in the testator’s handwriting? This case gives us some help in answering that question.

Holographic Will

A will entirely written and signed by a testator, used as an alternative to a will drafted by an attorney.

Texas Probate Case

In re Estate of Capps, 154 S.W.2d 242, 245 (Tex. App. – Texarkana 2005)

Facts & Procedural History

After Nadine Capp’s passing, her physical will was unable to be found. The trial court found that Ms. Capp (Decedent) had intended for her property to be dispersed as instructed by the will document, and admitted it to probate as a holographic will. The trial court also appointed Devon Roberts as the administrator for Decedent’s estate.

Truman Bishop (temporary administrator of Decedent’s estate) and Hulene B. Parvar appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the admission of the will to probate considering the original will had not been found. They also declared that the evidence was insufficient regarding the proper execution of the will, and that the appointment of Roberts rather than Bishop was an error. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the evidence was sufficient to allow for the will’s admission to probate (specifically that it showed the cause of nonproduction and that the will had not been revoked). The evidence provided showcased that the will had been created in Decedent’s handwriting and that the choice of administrator for Decedent’s estate was proper.

Main Considerations: Valid Written Will Requirements

What evidence must be provided to show non revocation (the rebuttal of the presumption of revocation) of a lost will?

Proof of circumstances contrary to the presumption of revocation, or evidence that the will was fraudulently destroyed by another person, can defend against the invalidation of a lost will. Using the standard sufficiency analysis rule, the testimony of a person (witness) who states that a testator did not revoke the will has been held sufficient evidence of non revocation to support probate of the will. Additionally, evidence that shows a decedent recognized a will following its execution and had no issues with its intended beneficiaries or the will’s contents can be used to rebut the presumption of revocation of a missing original will.

The Takeaway

In re Estate of Capps shows that a holographic will can/will be regarded as valid if either the will is completely in the testator’s handwriting (self-proven) or two witnesses testify to the presence of the testator’s handwriting. A will, intended to be holographic, will be enforced despite the existence of words not in the testator’s handwriting if those words do not alter the meaning of the will.

Do You Need an Experience Attorney to Probate a Will?

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Why is a handwritten will called holographic?

A handwritten will is called holographic because it is written entirely in the handwriting of the person who made it. This type of will is typically made when someone doesn’t have time to go to a lawyer or make a more formal will, such as a last will and testament or a simple will.

What do you write in a holographic will?

A holographic will is one made entirely in the handwriting of the testator. Holographic wills are legal in Texas. A holographic will begins with the words “I, (name), being of sound mind, hereby…” You must make it clear that the document is your will. You must also sign and date it.

To make a holographic will, you simply write out your wishes. You can also have at least two disinterested witnesses sign it to “prove” that you actually wrote it. In other words, they certify that they saw you write it.

Does a holographic will have to be in cursive?

A holographic will is a handwritten will that is entirely in the handwriting of the testator, the person who is making the will. The will does not have to be in cursive, but it does have to be in the testator’s own handwriting.

What is the difference between a simple will and a holographic will?

A simple will is a will that is executed by a lawyer or notary in accordance with the formalities of the law. A holographic will is a will that is entirely handwritten, dated and signed by the testator.

In order for a handwritten will to be legal, the document must be in your own handwriting. No one can write it for you and it cannot be typed. You can write in cursive or print, but the entire will must be in your handwriting only.

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