IfI write a paper and call it a Will, is it a valid will or doI need an attorney to write one?

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IfI write a paper and call it a Will, is it a valid will or doI need an attorney to write one?

How does this work?

Asked on October 27, 2011 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A holographic Will (i.e. that is a handwritten unwitnessed Will) is not legally recognized in your state.

However, that having been said, any adult of sound mind can make their own Will. It must be signed by at least 2 witnesses who must watch the testator (i.e. the person who is making it) date and sign the Will. Typically, witnesses must be people who won't inherit anything under it. The Will need not be notarized, however, if the testaor and the witnesses sign an affidavit (a sworn statement) before a notary public, it can help simplify the court procedures required to prove the validity of the Will when it is entered into probate (e.g. the witnesses need not be tracked down). Accordingly, a lawyer does not have to write a Will. The fact is that most people do not need one to make a basic Will. If they want they can create their own Will using a software program or the like.  

Note: You do not have to record or file your Will with the probate court but some people do for safekeeping in the states that allow this to be done; there is a nominal fee. Basically, just keep your Will in a safe place and be sure your executor (i.e. the person is charge of settling the estate) knows where it is.

If you have further questions or your estate is not a simple one, it may well be worth your while to consult directly with a probate or estate planning attorney.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

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