Tip – Holographic Wills are frequently ambiguous and are often challenged by heirs.
A Holographic Will is a Will written in a person’s own handwriting. In Idaho, a Holographic Will is valid, whether or not it is witnessed, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator—the person making the will. (Idaho Code §15-2-503) Even though Idaho recognizes Holographic Wills, they frequently have problems.
A brief example illustrates this point. A woman brought in a Holographic Will of her friend who had recently passed away. The woman who made the Will had no children to leave her property to. Because of ill feelings toward her siblings, the woman had left her entire estate to the friend
who had brought in the Will, leaving nothing to her 2 siblings.
When the Will was filed for probate, it was quickly challenged as invalid by the excluded siblings. The Will was clearly invalid because she had not written the entire Will in her own handwriting but had used a filled in-the-blank form. Some of the Will was in her handwriting and some was typed, so the material provisions were not completely in the woman’s handwriting as required by the statute. Since the Will was invalid, the friend received nothing and the estate was divided equally between the 2 siblings under Idaho’s Intestate Laws—even though the woman who brought in the Will claimed she had many witnesses who would testify that her friend intended to leave her everything.
Sometimes another person will write a Will for an individual who is unable to write and then have him or her sign it. This is invalid also. The person making the Will must write it in its entirety and then sign it.
In conclusion, Holographic Wills are frequently ambiguous, done incorrectly, challenged by potential heirs and result in costly litigation.
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Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.