Russ Cook & Associates, PC

What is a holographic will?

Unlike some other states, Tennessee has some broad rules that allow Brentwood residents and other people in the Nashville area and surrounding countryside to make out valid wills that do not strictly follow the state's requirements. One of the options a Tennessee resident has is to make out a holographic will.

A holographic will is a document that otherwise looks and seems like a will, in that it directs how the person's property should be disposed of when that person dies, but that is completely in the person's own handwriting. These wills are valid and recognized in Tennessee, even if certain formal protocols, like having witnesses at the signing of the will, are not followed.

However, Tennessee law does require that, before being admitted to probate, the handwriting on the holographic will must be verified as authentic by two witnesses, who generally must not stand to benefit in any way should the will get admitted to probate.

Moreover, a holographic will meet the essential requirements of being a valid will. For instance, a person still must be over 18 to make any sort of will, and the person must also have the mental competence to do so. In other words, a holographic will is a way for a person to avoid some of the formalities of making a will, but it does not make what would be an otherwise invalid will valid.

Before rushing to make a holographic will, however, Tennessee residents shall also recognize that while the holographic will is valid, if it is not written in a perfectly clear manner or does not cover all of the property it needs to cover, there could be probate problems down the road when heirs and others cannot figure out what the will means.

In many situations, it may be best for a Tennessean just to visit a lawyer and have a formal will that meets legal requirements drafted. However, a holographic will is a legal option for the residents of this state.

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