When it comes to a will, any person of sound mind over the age of 18 (or who is younger and a member of the armed forces) may – and absolutely should – execute one. In Indiana, the document must be signed and acknowledged in the presence of two or more witnesses. Typically wills are typed documents, but in many states holographic, or handwritten wills are acceptable. In fact, if a will is made in imminent peril of death, it might even be oral or nuncupative.
At Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, P.C., when we prepare estate planning documents for our clients throughout the state of Indiana, those documents are typed. Every so often, however, a client of ours is named executor of someone else’s estate, and the will the deceased left is holographic.
Does holographic literally mean handwritten (in cursive), you may wonder, or could it have been printed by hand in block letters? In some states, the answer is yes; a holographic will must be entirely in the will maker’s own handwriting. The important thing to remember is that there must be evidence that the “testator” (the person executing the will) is the one who actually created it, and in the event of a dispute, handwriting experts might be called in.
The state of Indiana has no statutory provisions for holographic wills; on the other hand, Indiana courts have not tended to invalidate wills simply because they have been handwritten, provided that the documents meet the legal standards of this state and were witnessed correctly by two disinterested witnesses.
Whether typed, blog printed, or written in cursive, a will can be made “self proved” by attaching a self-proving clause in which witnesses attest to the authenticity of the will and to the testator’s competency to make that will. And, while this is relatively scarce in today’s digital generation, in the non-urban areas of our state, we’re still seeing adult children asking us for help handling their parents’ holographic wills.