What Is a Holographic Will in Texas?
A holographic will is one written in the Testator’s (person making the will) handwriting. For a holographic will to be valid in Texas, the Testator must have handwritten the entire will and signed it. For example, it’s not enough for the Testator to sign a type-written document. It’s also a good idea to date a holographic will. See Tex. Est. Code § 251.052 (2019).
When Would You Use a Holographic Will in Texas?
Most often, holographic wills are used in urgent, emergency situations when the Testator doesn’t have time or access to an attorney and witnesses. Specifically, a Testator might use a holographic will before leaving on a months-long international vacation. You can dispose of your property in a holographic will or make provisions for your children. Amid the growing global uncertainty of 2020, questions about holographic wills have been brought up more frequently since the beginning of this pandemic.
Does a Holographic Will Expire in Texas?
No, holographic wills don’t have a timeline in which they’re valid. Like a traditional will, holographic wills are effective until they are revoked in writing. You can write a holographic will yourself without the expense of an attorney and without the hassle of coordinating witnesses. Holographic wills seems like the perfect do-it-yourself version of estate planning, except the process is riddled with potential pitfalls if you don’t know the law.
Why Would I Need a Traditional Will Instead of a Holographic One?
Holographic wills can work in a pinch. The problem is that they’re often employed by a Testator in a hurry – and not usually supervised by an attorney. Many individuals trying to handle their own estate planning don’t know the requirements of a valid will in Texas. Often, a Testator won’t dedicate the same amount of time and attention to a holographic will as to a traditional one. If there’s any ambiguity in a holographic will, your beneficiaries may have to argue your intent in court. In a worst case scenario, a holographic will that doesn’t properly dispose of your property could mean that things pass intestate and part of your estate could go to the state rather than those you wanted to inherit.
Retaining an attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes and give you and your family peace of mind.