Considering the pros and cons of holographic wills

Although everyone should have a will, many people in Michigan do not, even though Michigan law makes it easier to create one than the laws in some other states. In Michigan, people can write their wills by hand. The law calls these handwritten documents holographic wills. 

The primary factors that make a handwritten will valid are that the will is dated, and that the material portions of the will and the testator’s signature match. Although a regular will requires two witnesses, a holographic will does not require any.  

Even though a holographic will is legal, it may not be a good idea in every situation. For example, a person who has considerable assets, many heirs and more than one previous will may muddy the waters by creating a holographic will. Heirs may contest the handwritten document, and it could lead to a bitter court battle. 

On the other hand, someone who does not have a will already written may want to create a holographic will “just in case,” until the time that he or she can put together a more formal document. Or, that person may take extra precautions to make sure that the contents of the will are honored.  

The law states that extrinsic evidence can be used to prove that a holographic will expresses the intent of the testator. According to the National Paralegal College, extrinsic evidence is any evidence that the will does not contain within the body of it. So, if there are any portions of the will that the testator did not write himself or herself, such as witness signatures, these may be used to prove his or her intent. A witness’s oral testimony of a will’s validity may also be helpful in court.