When it comes to estate planning, you may be wondering if you can just write a handwritten will and be done with it – especially if you don’t have many assets. As with most things, laws will vary from state to state and you may or may not be able to do so. Wills that are unwitnessed and handwritten (also called holographic wills) are currently legal in about 25 states. To be considered valid, the will must be written and signed by the person who is making the will. Some states will require that it’s also dated.
While a holographic will is still better than nothing, there are many benefits of using other wills or estate planning tools to avoid a hassle after your passing. Probate courts have been known to be much more strict when it comes to holographic wills because they have to be sure of the legitimacy of the will.
Dying Without a Will
If you happen to pass without leaving behind a will or other means of transferring your property, your state’s laws will dictate what happens to your property. Typically, it will transfer to your spouse, children, or your closest relatives. If no relatives can be found, your property will go directly to the state. Additionally, the court will determine who will care for your minor children and their property, if the other parent isn’t able to do so. This can be important in cases where two parents have been divorced and a non-custodial parent isn’t in a position to take on the children to raise.
If you happen to be part of a same-sex couple that isn’t married, your partner will generally not be able to inherit anything after you pass. The exception is in states where a registered domestic partnership is treated like marriage concerning property transfer matters. In these situations, you must leave something behind specifically stating that you would like them to inherit your property and assets.
Making a binding and legal will doesn’t have to be complicated. Seeking out an experienced will lawyer in Sacramento, CA can aid you in drafting a will that to ensure that your property and assets are treated as you wish after your passing. All too often, people think that they don’t need to have a proper will because they don’t have a lot of property. While you may get away with it, it’s not the best course of action. These types of wills can take a lot of time to process if they are even accepted in your state.
Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and handwritten wills.