The Holographic will: an “Imperfect” solution to a problem

Michigan law allows for the creation of a holographic will, a will that is handwritten and signed by the Testator. The Testator is the person who is making out the will. A holographic will is valid only if it is ALL the following:

(a) In WRITING. (b) Signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction. (c) Signed by at least 2 individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after he or she witnessed either the signing of the will or the testator’s acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.

A will that does not comply with the requirements above is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if it is dated, and if the testator’s signature and the document’s significant portions are in the testator’s handwriting.

This is great, right? You can simplify everything and communicate your wishes without having to sit down with a lawyer! Not so fast. There are many down sides to a holographic will. First, the handwritten will may not be adequate to address your estate planning needs. From a practical standpoint, you may make some innocent mistakes that can operate to invalidate the will. You may also leave instructions that are vague, unclear or contradictory. If this happens, a court might end up dividing up your assets per state law- which may not be in accordance with your intentions!

While the holographic will is certainly an option for people, it is not recommended. You want a professional with experience to ensure your estate planning documents are valid, adequate in addressing your unique needs and function to carry out your exact wishes! Don’t do this alone! Call C&G to assist you today!

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