Under certain circumstances, heirs may submit a handwritten will for probate. As explained by the University of North Texas at Dallas, handwritten wills, also called holographic wills, generally arise during a severe emergency such as an unexpected life-threatening situation.
Because a dying individual may not have the physical ability or time to create a formal will, he or she may write one out if possible. A napkin or an available business card, for example, may allow an individual with limited time to communicate his or her last wishes.
Handwritten wills may require witnesses or a sworn affidavit
When accepting a handwritten will, the Lone Star State’s probate court may require sworn testimony from at least two witnesses. The witnesses must each confirm under oath that the handwriting belongs to the deceased.
Alternatively, a probate judge may ask to see a signed affidavit from the will’s creator to prove its validity. While alive, an individual who wrote out a will may attach a self-proved statement informing the court that a previously handwritten document remains valid. The attachment, however, may require evidence of the individual’s state of mind and the intent to execute a will.
Heirs may contest a handwritten will
As noted by the State Bar of Texas, heirs who challenge a handwritten will in probate may need to hire a forensic handwriting professional. If, for example, during the last few minutes of life, an individual could not write legibly, his or her handwriting may appear strained. An experienced handwriting analyst may need to prove whether the deceased wrote it without undue influence.
Texas probate code generally accepts handwritten wills, but they may raise issues. When an individual forgets to include the names of heirs or a complete listing of assets, for example, the probate court may not carry out his or her wishes.