How Does a Holographic Will Work?

By: Sharen Turney

Many people who're unfamiliar with the general concept of wills seem to have trouble getting the idea behind the holographic will and how exactly it works. Contrary to what you might think from the name of this type of will, it has nothing to do with holograms or other high-end technology it actually refers to one of the most basic types of wills there are, and those wills are normally used in extraordinary circumstances where a regular will cannot be applied due to whatever circumstances.

The basic idea of a holographic will is that it's written and signed by the person leaving the will also known as the testator without the presence of any witnesses. This is quite contrary to standard types of wills which require the signatures of various witnesses and legal professionals, in order to certify the legitimacy of the will and the fact that it hasn't been tampered with or forged entirely. And while this type of will can be considered perfectly valid, it must be executed in some special circumstances where a regular will can't be used.

For example, a holographic will is commonly used when the testator is closing in on their final moments, and, certain of their imminent demise, they write up the will in order to leave something for their loved ones after they've passed away. There are various stories passed down between legal professionals used to exemplify the usefulness of a holographic will for example, the common tale of a man who was about to pass away and hastily wrote "All to wife" on the wall of his room, and that was afterwards considered his will in legal terms. Coincidentally, this story is also featured in the Guinness Book of World Records, holding the record for the shortest will in existence.

Of course, in order for the will to be legal, it must meet certain criteria. First and most importantly, it must of course be written by the testator since a holographic will can be written in all sorts of mediums (another interesting example involves a man writing it on the fender of his tractor, under which he was stuck), there must be a way to prove that it was the product of the actual person leaving the will and not a fabrication.

In addition to that, there must be no evidence that the testator could have been incapable of writing the holographic will at the time of their demise it doesn't have to be proven that they had this capacity by default, but rather, if an argument arises, this proof must be sought. Last but not least, a holographic will must be just that a will. In other words, it must be written with the primary purpose of leaving assets to beneficiaries, so the actual will cannot be a by-product of another writing created by the testator; an example of this could be a will attached to the end of a diary note, which can be considered invalid because it wasn't written with the primary purpose of functioning as a will.

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