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What are holographic wills, and how can they cause disputes?

Many people prefer to consult with a professional and have them draft a will, which must include two witnesses’ signatures. Texas law allows you to write the will yourself without having witnesses sign it if you handwrite it. Although it’s possible to do it alone, it may not be advisable.

Estate planning

Estate planning can be as simple as completing a will or significantly more complex by including trusts. Some individuals prefer to discuss their estate’s settlement plans with their family before writing down their wishes, while others choose a more straightforward route. It could be that they are facing an unexpected death and have no time left to consult with anyone, or they may prefer secrecy. If you choose to write your own will, leave it in a safe place with your other financial papers so that someone can find it when you pass.

Proving validity

Since there are no witnesses, a holographic will must declare that this is a will, state that the testator revokes all previous wills and lists the bequeathments. The testator must sign the will, but a date is not required. If the will goes to probate, the court may require the executor to prove that the document’s handwriting is the testator’s.


A disgruntled heir may challenge the validity of a holographic will. They could raise the argument that the testator did not intend it to be a will or that the deceased was not mentally sound when they wrote it. Of course, if it’s not dated, that adds another layer of confusion and uncertainty.

A holographic will is not an ideal way to designate beneficiaries, but if that’s your choice, try to make it airtight to avoid confusion and hard feelings among your loved ones.