How does a holographic will work in MI?

You might have seen a scene on television or in a movie where the main character in a dire situation writes out his last will and testament on the only scrap of paper available, then signs it before either perishing or being rescued. Dramatic, certainly, but would such a document hold up in a Michigan court? What if, instead of having a will formally drawn up, you decide to write it out on paper and sign it? Would your wishes be contested or honored if it is your own signature on the paper?

This type of document is called a holographic will, according to the Michigan Legislature. A “holographic” document in this sense means that it is handwritten, rather than typed or printed. A holographic will is often only signed by the person who wrote it, known as the testator. Why might you create a holographic will? One example that is not as theatrical as the one above might involve finding out that you have a serious illness, and deciding to write down your wishes before taking it to your lawyer later to formalize. If you are unable to immediately have the will formalized, it may still be considered valid if it is in your handwriting, signed and dated. Having two or more of your loved ones sign, as well, may add strength to a holographic will.

However, a holographic will may not be in your or your loved ones’ best interest. A document that is prepared by professionals, with your acknowledgement, and has at least two signatures by impartial witnesses in addition to your own is generally considered a much stronger legal document. Estate planning may be a complex procedure, and therefore this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.