Tag Archives: holographic will

Do-It-Yourself (Holographic) Wills – Knowing Your Options in the Age of Quarantine

This article provides basic information on what a holographic will is and how to create one that is valid and enforceable in the State of Nevada.

The term “holographic will” refers to a document that sets forth an individual’s last will and testament and which that individual has created on their own. In this context, the person making the will is referred to as a “testator.” In Nevada, a holographic will is valid and enforceable if all of the following requirements are met:

          1. The signature and date set forth in the will are written by the hand of the testator.

          2. The material provisions set forth in the will are written by the hand of the testator.

          3. The testator is of sound mind.

          4. The testator is over the age of 18.

A holographic will that meets the statutory requirements is valid and enforceable regardless of whether at the time it is made, the testator is physically located in or out of Nevada.

PLEASE BE ADVISED that when an individual establishes a testamentary transfer of an asset to a beneficiary by holographic will, the asset becomes a part of the individual’s probate estate upon death, and in order for the beneficiary to obtain legal ownership of the asset, it will be necessary to submit the holographic will to the appropriate probate court and obtain its authorization to effect the transfer. Furthermore, where a testator disposes of an asset by holographic will, the asset is chargeable with the payment of the testator’s debts. In our firm’s experience, holographic wills are challenged in probate court with greater frequency than last wills and testaments prepared by an attorney.

We wish our clients and community safety and health during this time, in particular the most vulnerable, and we continue to stand ready to assist with your needs, questions, and concerns.

Do It Yourself Estate Planning?

               Some years ago a woman called me in distress. Her neighbor, Mary, had died leaving some handwritten “final instructions”. The instructions were entirely in Mary’s handwriting and were signed, notarized and dated. Mary and her late husband had both prepared handwritten wills leaving all their property to charity. After her husband’s death, Mary had crossed out some provisions and written changes in the margins. Mary had named her neighbor the executor of her estate, but Mary’s family had already begun to plunder her house. The neighbor had no idea if the “final instructions” was a valid legal document.

                 Are handwritten wills valid in Nevada? Yes, provided they meet the following requirements: they must be signed, dated, and the material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator. We were able to probate Mary’s will, and her neighbor was appointed the representative of her estate. However, the estate was unnecessarily complicated by the way in which the will had been written. It took significant time and effort to petition the court for instructions as to the validity and interpretation of the will and of the changes made in the margins, which reduced the amount of money available to the ultimate beneficiary of the estate.

                 Many people are reluctant to do any estate planning because they do not want to face their own mortality. Others are reluctant to pay an attorney to prepare a will or trust because they think they can save money by writing their own will. While a handwritten or “holographic” will is valid in Nevada if it meets the statutory criteria, you may save your personal representative a great deal of trouble—and your heirs a great deal of money—if you pay a professional to do the job right.