When Aretha Franklin passed away in 2018, she was not believed to have had any type of estate plan. Months after her death, however, several handwritten wills were located in the late singer’s home.
While some people think that handwritten wills are never valid, this is simply not true. Instead, handwritten wills play a unique role in the estate planning process.
This article takes a look at the role that handwritten documents can play in the estate planning process as well as the limited situations in which these documents are allowed.
What a Holographic Will Is
A holographic will is a type of estate planning document that has been handwritten and then signed by a testator, or the person who creates the will. These wills often do not include witness signatures.
For a holographic will to be valid, the document must comply with the applicable laws in the state where the will was either created or administered.
The Validity of Holographic Wills
Many people today to create estate planning documents on computers. When creating an estate plan, it also helpful to obtain the assistance of an experienced estate planning lawyer.
If you do create a handwritten will, however, it is often likely that a probate judge will end up tasked with deciding whether the will is legitimate.
In comparison to other states, probate courts in New York look down on holographic wills with few exceptions.
One situations holographic wills might be acknowledged is if a person is a member of the armed forces who is serving in a combat zone. Another exception is if a person is a merchant marine who created a handwritten holographic will. In these situations, holographic wills are valid in New York for only one year after a person has finished active duty service.
Why New York Looks down on Holographic Wills
New York as well as many other states rarely accepts holographic wills as a valid for a good reason.
While some people might think that holographic wills could potentially be used to avoid the numerous complications involved with creating a will, New York prohibits holographic wills to protect people throughout the state.
Even though a person might create an acceptable will, there is unfortunately not an accurate way to prove that a person created a will after they have died. It is also difficult in this situation that establish a will was not altered in some way by someone else who might have come into contact with the document.
As a result, the state of New York rarely allows holographic wills in an effort to increase the chance that estate planning documents are actually written by a testator.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
One of the risks when a person’s estate planning document cannot be easily located is that their will might administered in a way that does not conform to their wishes.
An experienced estate planning attorney, however, can make sure that your will is treated as valid. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free initial consultation.