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Texas Estate Planning & Real Estate Law Blog

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Handwritten (Holographic) Wills

In Texas, handwritten wills are valid.  But there are some stringent requirements and some awfully good reasons not to depend on a holographic (handwritten) will.  Here they are:

  1. The entire will must be handwritten by the person making the will (testator).  It cannot be a mixture of typing and handwriting. 
  2. The testator must sign the will.  There is no requirement that the signature be at the bottom.  The signature can be the testator’s initials, if it is the intent of the testator that signing the initials is meant to be a signature.
  3. The writing must clearly show that the testator intends that the writing be a will (testamentary intent).  Words such as, “I give” or “I bequeath” or “I devise” are good to include.  But whether or not these words are used, the idea is that the testator’s writing has to indicate that the purpose of the writing is to pass title to possessions upon death of the testator.
  4. The testator must be at least eighteen years old (or, if under 18, is married or has been lawfully married, or at the time of the writing, a member of the armed forces of the United States).
  5. In Texas, a date is not required.  Business stationery is not required.  It can be written on most anything.
  6. The testator must have been of sound mind and the will must not have been revoked.

Don’t depend on a holographic will.  Here are just a few of the more common reasons:       

  1. Court challenges are frequently based on whether the testator actually intended that the writing was a will and whether the signature really was the testator’s signature.
  2. Often the entire estate is not devised and the balance of the estate has to pass by way of state intestate statutes.
  3. An error in devising property due to the nature of community property is another common problem.
  4. Usually holographic wills fail to name an independent executor.

An attorney can save the testator and the beneficiaries from the pain of dealing with problems brought about by holographic wills.

Lucy Hicks Anderson, PLLC assists clients all over the world with legal matters originating in Texas, including Estate Planning, Elder Law and Real Estate matters.

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