holographic will

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Holographic will is an unattested will that is written and signed in the testator’s own handwriting. A holographic will, by definition, does not need witnesses to be valid. Therefore, holographic wills are different from typical wills because a holographic will does not have an attestation requirement. Some states and jurisdictions do not recognize holographic wills. Requirements to create a valid holographic will vary according to state law.

For example:

  1. Texas requires the entire will to be written in the testator’s handwriting. Texas Estates Code Title 2 Section 251.001 states “a will written wholly in the testator's handwriting is not required to be attested by subscribing witnesses.”
  2. Utah will recognize a holographic will if material portions of the will are in the testator’s handwriting, meaning the will does not have to be entirely in the testator’s handwriting. Utah Code Section 75-2-502 states a will “is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and material portions of the document are in the testator’s handwriting.” 
  3. New York only recognizes holographic wills made by certain people; namely armed forces members engaged in combat. New York Consolidated Laws Estate,  Powers, and Trusts Article 3 Part 2.2 states holographic wills are valid only if they are made by (1) “a member of the armed forces of the United States while in actual military or naval service during a war, declared or undeclared, or other armed conflict in which members of the armed forces are engaged” (2) “a person who serves with or accompanies an armed force engaged in actual military or naval service during such war or other armed conflict” or (3) “a mariner while at sea”.

[Last updated in February of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]