Is a handwritten Will legal?

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Is a handwritten Will legal?

It’s notarized. In MS.

Asked on December 21, 2010 under Estate Planning, Mississippi

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A handwritten Will is known as a "holographic Will", and such Wills are valid in MS.   Holographic wills are not required to comply with the legal requirements applicable to formal Wills.  To prove a holographic Will, an executor must demonstrate that it is entirely in the decedent’s handwriting and that it is signed at the bottom (subscribed).  Proof that the testator had testamentary capacity and that the Will is wholly in his handwriting is usually in the form of affidavits of disinterested persons.  Holographic Wills may be signed by witnesses but this is not a requirement.  Additionally, having a notary is not required but will aid in proving some of the above requirements.

It should also be  noted that, although a holographic Will must be solely in the writing of the testator, this requirement is liberally construed.  For example, under the common law “surplusage rule,” words that are not in the handwriting of the testator will not invalidate the Will if omitting them would not alter the meaning of the WillHowever, holographic Wills can still cause probate difficulties if they are unclear and/or do not effectively dispose of all of the decedent’s property.


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