How to Write a Handwritten Will

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In some situations you may be forced to create your own will rather than spend money on an attorney to draft one for you. A person using a will to distribute their possessions to beneficiaries after they die is called the testator. A fully handwritten will is called a holographic will and in most cases are completely legal, as long as several guidelines are followed.

Write the will by yourself. If more than one type of handwriting is displayed, it will be much more complex for lawyers to confirm the will as legitimate. Similarly, the entire will must be handwritten. If anything in the will has been typed up it cannot be classed as a holographic will.

Write down exactly which possessions you want to distribute and who you want to distribute them to. Everything you write in the will must be clearly stated so that anybody can understand it. The shorter and simpler the will, the better. If a will is confusing to read, potential beneficiaries may have to take each other to court to decide on the context of your will.

State the full names of the beneficiaries and also their relationship to you. A full name will help lawyers pin down exactly who it is you want to distribute your possessions to.

Sign the document. You must also ask two witnesses to sign the holographic will, although in some jurisdictions this is not necessary. According to, unwitnessed holographic wills are acceptable in only 25 U.S. states. A witness must be someone of legal age who has not already been mentioned in the will.


  • Research the legal standing of the region in which you reside. Laws regarding holographic wills differ between states and countries.
  • There are examples of people in extreme circumstances having to write their will on objects other than paper. As long as the handwriting is legible, signed and can be proven to be written by the testator, it is likely to be accepted as a holographic will.


About the Author

Raymond McRobbie has written since 2009, specializing in law and travel on eHow. He also serves as senior writer for McRobbie has NCTJ credits in news writing, United Kingdom and European government and media law. He also has a Higher National Diploma in media studies from Aberdeen College.

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