What is a “holographic will”? Are they allowed in Arizona?
A holographic Will (also known as a “handwritten will”) is a Will that has been handwritten and signed by the testator. While many wills require that several witnesses be present, with a holographic Will there is no requirement that any witnesses be present. In Arizona, holographic Wills are permitted as long as they meet certain requirements.
The first requirement is that the person making the holographic will must be above age 18. Minors are not allowed to make holographic wills. Second the person must be of “sound mind”. What does of “sound mind” mean? While the definition depends on the state you are in, it generally requires that you are: (1) aware of the actions you are taking; (2) know what property you own; (3) can identify family and close friends; and (4) understand how your property will be distributed under your Will. If you can do all of these things you are of “sound mind.”
Third, the will-maker, also known legally as the “testator”, must place his or her signature on the Will in order for the Will to be valid. This means you must physically sign the Will in your handwritten signature. Make no mistake, you must sign the actual document. Signing the outside of an envelope that contains the holographic Will is not sufficient to meet this requirement. Furthermore, printing your name will not suffice. Finally, there must be evidence that the testator actually created the will. Proof of this can be made through witnesses, handwriting experts, and any other method that proves the testator made the will.
What is NOT required for a Holographic will? As previously mentioned, a holographic Will does not require the signature of any witnesses. Furthermore, although it is probably advisable, you are not required to put any date on your holographic Will. Also, while pre-printed forms may be used to help the testator, all of the material provisions of the holographic will must be in the testator’s handwriting. For example if you want to leave your spouse $10,000, you must state this in your handwriting and not on a preprinted form.
Overall “holographic wills” are most often used in emergency situations where a regular Will has not been made. Although it is probably advisable to go through the formalities to create a regular Will witnessed by several people, a validly created holographic Wil has the same force and effect of a regular Will. The drawback is that while you can be almost certain that a regular Will properly created will be enforced, you run a greater risk a holographic Will of making certain errors which may invalidate your Will.