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

Answers:

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.


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