Is a notarized handwritten Will valid?

My mother and I both own our house (both names are on the deed0. She died 2 years ago. Can an my sisters take me to probate if I only have a handwritten notarized Will giving me the house?

Asked on August 22, 2013 under Estate Planning, Missouri


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Most states do not recognize handwritten (i.e."holographic") Wills; MO is among them. Therefore the writing that you have is not legally valid to transfer your mother's interest in the home to you.

However, you may still have a legal claim to it. What you need to do is to check to see exactly how title to the house is held. Does it say "with rights of survivorship" (or similar wording)? If it does, then you and your mother were "joint tenants with rights of survivorship". This means that when a co-owner dies, the surviving owner is vested with 100% ownership. If, however, the deed is silent as to this (i.e. just lists both names or both names followed by the words "tenants in common"), then the deceased's share becomes part of their estate; it then passes as per the terms of their Will, if any, or passes according to state "intestate succession". This would be you and your sisters and any other siblings or surviving spouse, if any.

For a more detailed explanation of all of this, you should consult directly with a probate attorney. They can review all of the facts and advise you accordingly.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.