Are handwritten Wills legal?

UPDATED: Jan 29, 2014

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Are handwritten Wills legal?

A friend of mine passed away recently and his closest living relative is his sister. He wrote an extreamly long letter; it’s pretty much his Will. It says where things are to go and what he would like done. The police had to hand over the letter to his sister. She told us that he mentioned my family and I not in a paragraph but in 4 very long pages. When we asked if we could read the pages about us she told us no. Is there a law stating she has to legally show us the pages about us?

Asked on January 29, 2014 under Estate Planning, Michigan


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Whether a holographic, or hand-written, will is enforceable depends on the law of the state in which the person died.  Here is Arizona, a holographic will is valid so long as the entire will is in the decedent's hand-writing and it is signed.  Whether this letter you speak of would qualify as a holographic will in a state that recognized holographic wills would depend on how exactly it was worded and whether the individual who wrote it was of sound mind at the time.   If the letter is a valid will, and if you are beneficiaries under the will (if you inherited something) then you are entitled to know about it.  If your friend's sister has not yet entered the will into probate court, and you are sure you are a beneficiary, you should contact a wills, trusts and estates attorney admitted in the state where your friend died and see about getting something filed in probate court.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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