Relocating? Your Holographic Will May Not Be Legal In Your New State

14 June 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


A holographic will is one that is unwitnessed and written by the testator in his or her own handwriting. Most people don't take into account that their existing will may not be legal in their new state when they relocate. Whether or not your existing holographic will is legal depends on complex laws that vary by state. It's important to protect yourself by having your will updated before you move.

States That Do Not Accept Holographic Wills

In some states, holographic wills are invalid, even if they were originally executed in a state where they are valid. The 16 states that do not accept holographic wills are: Rhode Island, Alabama, Oregon, Delaware, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, New Hampshire, Illinois, Mississippi, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas and Kentucky.

States That Require Material Portions of the Will To Be Hand Written

Thirteen states require defined material portions of the will be handwritten, such as the designation of the executor or guardian, those that distribute property to certain people such as spouses or minor children and the signature and date. These material portions vary from state to state, so check with your state's laws. These states are: Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Maine, Oklahoma, Michigan, North Dakota, Montana and New Jersey.

States That Require the Entire Will be Handwritten

Some states will recognize a holographic will but require that the entire will be in the testator's handwriting. These states may not accept the will if you use a pre-printed form for any portion of the will. There are six such states which are: West Virginia, Arkansas, Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Nevada.

States With Special Requirements

There are 11 states with special requirements for acceptance of a holographic will. Some accept holographic wills if they are legal in the state where they were executed. Other states require a certain number of witnesses or that the will is dated. Two require that they are made only by members of the armed forces during certain circumstances, and these wills have time limits. The states with special requirements are: New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Washington, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Check with your state to see which special requirements apply.

Estate laws are complicated, which is why you should always have a lawyer draw up your will. If you are planning to relocate, consult your attorney to ensure that there is no conflict with your estate plan in your new state of residence. For more assistance, contact a professional like those at McFarland & Masters LLC.