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Are Handwritten Wills Valid?


Everyone should have a last will and testament in place to protect their loved ones and ensure that they leave instructions for the distribution of assets. Some states allow you to use a handwritten will. A handwritten will is also called a holographic will. Wisconsin law does require a will to be typed and properly witnessed and notarized in order to be valid. A holographic will is not considered a legal document in Wisconsin.

What is a Holographic Will?

A holographic will is one that is hand-written. About half the states prohibit the use of handwritten wills. Sometimes people scribble a note on a piece of paper and think that they have successfully created a will. Unfortunately, a note such as this is not a legal will. Even in states that allow holographic wills, there can be complications. For example, legendary singer Aretha Franklin died without a will. Recently, several handwritten wills were located in her home. Because she lived in Michigan, where holographic wills are legal, the papers will be reviewed.

Handwritten wills are extremely complicated. A will needs to be verified to make sure that it is authentic. It must also have been written when the person was in his or her right mind and without any duress. Sometimes a person writes several wills and then the most recent one must be determined. In the case of Aretha Franklin’s handwritten wills, the court will review the matter and make a ruling. In addition, some parts of the will were scratched out or changed. The decision regarding her will could be extremely important to her heirs.

What Makes a Will Legal in Wisconsin?


Your last will and testament is the way that you make sure that your beneficiaries receive the assets that you want them to have. If you create an invalid will, you will cause problems for your loved ones and they could end up without your property. The only way to protect your heirs and ensure that your property and assets are divided according to your wishes is with a legal will. In Wisconsin, your will must be typewritten and it must be witnessed by two people who are not named in the document. In addition, the will needs to be notarized. If any of these steps are missing, the document will not be considered valid.

It is best to have your will drafted by a professional. Although there are some online forms or templates for wills, it is not advisable to utilize them. These forms may not address your specific needs and you cannot be certain that they meet the proper requirements. In addition, you want to make sure that your will is ironclad and cannot be challenged in court. Once you have your will drafted and notarized, you need to keep it up to date. If you have any significant changes in your life, you should make the appropriate adjustments to your will. For instance, if you get divorced, you need to change the beneficiary as soon as possible. Your attorney will take care of the details.

When you need to create or change your will, contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. for the legal help you need.

Published June 3, 2019
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