We live in uncertain times, and many people are concerned about their future. That’s causing a lot of people to write their wills, hoping that if something happens to them, their loved ones will at least have some direction and a measure of security.
Maybe you’ve heard that Arizona, unlike many states, takes a pretty liberal approach to handwritten wills. Handwritten (or “holographic”) wills are valid in this state as long as all of the material provisions and the signature are written by the testator’s hand — even without witnesses.
That does not mean, however, that a handwritten will is a good idea. It isn’t. Handwritten wills can cause a number of problems, depending on the situation. For example:
- Someone could challenge your will on the basis that the handwriting doesn’t seem to be yours. That could lead to expensive litigation that requires the testimony of an expert in handwriting analysis to convince the court that the will should be honored.
- You could leave ambiguous directions that cause confusion. Since you know what you mean when you’re writing out your will, you may not realize that your survivors may be confused about your intentions. For example, saying “I leave my favorite ring to my eldest daughter” could lead to disputes if your heirs have different opinions about which of your rings was your favorite.
- You could forget something important. People sometimes forget to list all of their assets or name an executor, for example.
Having a will is a good idea for any adult, but it’s best to go about the process with some experienced assistance. An estate planning attorney can help you make certain that your estate plans are unambiguous and valid.