Holographic (handwritten) wills seem like the way to go. They save you money, save you from hiring an attorney, and you can do it on your own time at your own dime. However, there are many myths that follow these types of wills.
1. Drafting my own Will is an inexpensive and easy way to ensure my wishes are carried out!
FALSE: Holographic wills always require approval from the state probate court.
FALSE: You may avoid estate planning legal fees during your lifetime but your heirs will incur high costs when they must hire an attorney to proceed with admitting the Will through probate court.
2. Holographic wills are always valid and enforceable!
FALSE: Holographic wills must be admitted into probate by the probate court and approval is always required.
3. If I change my mind I can just rewrite one.
FALSE: Holographic wills must be totally destroyed before they will not be viewed as potentially valid. Therefore, if you have 2 or more holographic wills that differ when it comes to terms, your relatives could end up fighting over what your actual intentions were and you risk your desires being muted.
4. I can fill out a form online and keep it in my dresser for when my time comes.
FALSE: Most states require a holographic will to be entirely in the handwriting of the deceased, as well as signed and dated.
5: If I write my own Will, I won’t need an attorney.
FALSE: In order for a holographic will to be held valid, it must be approved by the state probate court. This approval stems from filed documents, which many non-attorney’s do not have the requisite knowledge to do.
It is always better to be safe than sorry. A holographic will can end up costing thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees as well as delay the distribution of the estate by many months, and even years! Having a valid, attorney-drafted Will is most often cheaper and always quicker with the administration of the estate.