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What is a holographic will?

You want to know that your estate is handled according to your wishes on your passing, and spent a good deal of time painstakingly drafting copy that reflects your wishes. Yet you have been told that according to New York law, your will may not be valid because it is considered a “holographic” will, dependent on the medium in which it is delivered. But what is a holographic will, and when is it considered binding?

The New York State Senate outlines the details of a holographic will. Put in layman’s terms, a will is “holographic” if it is handwritten. If you choose to write your will by hand then it may not be considered valid save for in very unique circumstances; handwritten wills are too easily forged and altered, and something as simple as handwriting can cause issues with interpreting the will’s meaning and intent.

There are limited exceptions to the invalidity of a holographic will. Holographic wills can be considered valid if written by mariners at sea, by active duty military service members engaged in active warfare and combat or by those accompanying active duty military service members on their engagements. Even for these persons, holographic wills can expire anywhere from one to three years from the time it was made or the time a service member was actively discharged from the military. Testamentary capacity can also be a matter to consider when determining if your holographic will is valid.

Please use this blog post for information purposes only; it does not stand as actionable legal counsel.

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