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How does a holographic will differ from other wills?

People write wills to make their wishes for after their deaths known. In order to avoid a will contest and ensure that the wishes are carried out, however, it is very important to ensure that a will is valid and meets the legal requirements for a will. In general, a will is presumed to be valid under the law until and unless someone challenges the will or rebuts the presumption of its validity.

In general, a will must be signed by both the person making the will and witnesses. Valid witnesses must be competent and should not be a party that has any interests in the will. The person making the will is required to have executed the will with "testamentary intent," which means that he or she must understand what he or she is doing by making a will, have knowledge of his or her property and assets and understand what the will calls for in relation to those assets and property.

A holographic will is a unique kind of will that differs in a few key ways from a standard will. Many jurisdictions recognize the validity of a holographic will even though it does not conform to some of the usual legal requirements for a valid will. Holographic wills are written by the testator in the testator's own handwriting. This is different from the usual procedure when a scrivener or other party has the responsibility of recording, or writing down, the will. In order to be valid, a holographic will is still required to contain the signature of the signature. The provisions of the will are, legally speaking, generally limited to the provisions written by the testator in his or her own handwriting. If there are other provisions written in the will that are not written by the testator in his or her own handwriting, these provisions may not be recognized as legally valid or enforceable.

Another key difference between a holographic will and a standard will is that a holographic will is not signed by witnesses who attest to the will's preparation and execution. This means that only one party-the testator-is involved in the creation of a holographic. Despite these deviations from the usual requirements, approximately 30 states accept the validity of a holographic will.

Source: National Paralegal College, "Other Types of Wills," 2003-2010

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