Can a handwritten Will be disregarded if someone created a pour-over Will?

UPDATED: Jul 2, 2012

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Can a handwritten Will be disregarded if someone created a pour-over Will?

Recently there was a death in the family and my grandmother’s sister wrote a Will, after her death at the Will reading their great niece had a pour-over Will read and that Will left everything to her and her husband and a very small percentage to my grandmother. When I say everything I mean everything down to her house and bank account which while my great aunt was alive she refused to allow her to add herself to. Are any of these actions legal?

Asked on July 2, 2012 under Estate Planning, Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation as it stands.  Now, it seems that ther are many issues here.  First, are you sure that your grandmother wrote that first Will or signed it if it was typed?  Next, Virginia does indeed recognize a hand-written will (also known as a “holographic will”). But it must be written entirely in the testattor's - your grandmothers - own handwriting. And now upon her death, two witnesses would have to testify that the handwriting is indeed hers. It also has to abide by the laws in your state: it has to be signed and as the law states "No will shall be valid unless it be in writing and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction, in such manner as to make it manifest that the name is intended as a signature; and moreover, unless it be wholly in the handwriting of the testator, the signature shall be made or the will acknowledged by him in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, present at the same time; and such witnesses shall subscribe the will in the presence of the testator, but no form of attestation shall be necessary. If the will be wholly in the handwriting of the testator that fact shall be proved by at least two disinterested witnesses."  Subsequesnt WIlls can revoke prior Wills and that is your argument here.  Please seek legal help.  The revocation wording could be crucial in many ways.  Good luck.

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