Since most people do not even take the time to create any type of estate plan, you may think it is a step up if someone at least leaves behind a handwritten will. This can range from a loved one sitting at a desk for many days, weighing the consequences of each word, to someone else who scrawls some random thoughts on a yellow pad while watching late night TV.
In some states, probate courts do not consider handwritten to be valid. Louisiana is one state that accepts handwritten wills under certain circumstances. However, making mistakes when writing your own will may leave your loved ones with even more stress and confusion than if you had left no will at all.
How to prepare your olographic will
Handwritten wills in Louisiana are called “olographic,” whereas in most other states, the term is “holographic.” They are essentially the same thing, a will that is written entirely by hand by the testator. This state requires the following factors before it will consider your olographic will to be valid:
- Your signature and the date must appear at the bottom of the will.
- The date on the will must be clear and complete, including the month, day and year.
- As the testator, you may add a note following the signature if necessary.
- Anything you add or delete from the will must be in your handwriting.
- If you leave behind multiple wills, the court will usually follow the terms of the most recent one.
Louisiana law does not require your handwritten will to have any witnesses or to be notarized. However, the notarial will is another type of handwritten will that is valid in this state. A notarial will is necessary if you are unable to write, such as if you are too ill. You may wish to dictate the terms of your will for someone else to write, in which case, the law requires your will to have the signature of two witnesses and a notary.
Getting what you pay for
You may believe that drafting an olographic will save you money. However, many handwritten wills have resulted in disputes among loved ones who cannot decipher a family member’s handwriting or agree on the meaning or intention of the will. You may not ever realize the mistakes and confusion you have left behind and the money your loved ones may end up spending to resolve those disputes. To avoid this, it may be worth seeking a professional opinion of your handwritten will.