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What is a holographic will?

In the age of computers and word processing, most wills appear only as typed and printed documents. Indeed, that is the only type of will that some states will consider valid. However, if you are making out a will in Pennsylvania, you also have the option of writing out your will by hand. The term for this is a holographic will. 

According to FindLaw, approximately half the states in the country recognize the validity of a holographic will. However, due to the difficulty involved in verifying the authenticity of a handwritten will, there are certain conditions that you must meet for it to be valid.

If you make out a holographic will, the entirety of the text must appear in your own handwriting. Any provisions not written in your own hand are suspect because someone else could have added them to the will after your death, and such additions could invalidate the entire will. The validity of the will also depends heavily upon it bearing your signature. However, while most wills also require the signature of two witnesses, a handwritten will dispenses with this requirement. 

In addition to these special conditions, a holographic will must also meet the minimum validity requirements that apply to all wills. For example, you must be at least 18 years and have the mental capacity to understand what you are doing in bequeathing your property, naming guardians for your children, etc.

Be aware that even though handwritten wills are legal in Pennsylvania, a probate court may be hesitant to recognize it, and it may be more susceptible to challenge. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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Law Office of Margaret S. Phiambolis
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Spring House, PA 19477

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