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Other Types of Wills

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Holographic will:
A holographic will is a will written entirely in the testator’s handwriting and signed by the testator.

Nuncupative will:
A nuncupative will is an oral will.

Many jurisdictions have statutes that recognize certain types of wills which do not meet the usual requirements of either being written or having witnesses.

Holographic wills

A holographic will is entirely in the testator’s handwriting and signed by the testator; however, there are no attesting witnesses. Approximately 30 states recognize these wills.

If the document also contains material not written by the testator, recognizing the validity of the document varies, depending on the contents of the portion not in the testator’s hand. Generally, any provisions that are intended to be part of the will itself must be in the testator’s handwriting. Any superfluous text can be typewritten.

EXAMPLE (1): Diane decided to prepare a will. To save on the cost she decided to type it herself. When she was partially finished, she took it out of the typewriter and completed the balance in her handwriting. The court held that this hybrid instrument was not admissible to probate because it was not entirely in Diane’s handwriting. See, e.g., Hinson v. Hinson, 280 S.W.2d 731 (Tex. 1955).

EXAMPLE (2): Diane decided to prepare a will. To save on the cost she decided to buy a preprinted form and fill in the blanks herself with the relevant information regarding bequests and executor designation, to name a few. Since none of the printed matter was material in substance to her testamentary wishes, this will would be a valid holographic will. The preprinted verbiage would simply be ignored. See, e.g., In re Will of Allen, 559 S.E.2d 556 (N.C. 2002); Maul v. Williams, 69 S.W.2d 1107 (Tex. 1934); Estate of Black, 30 Cal. 3d 880 (1982); Fairweather v. Nord, 388 S.W.2d 122 (Ky. 1965).

Nuncupative wills

A nuncupative will is an oral will. Approximately 20 states recognize these wills. To be valid, most states require the following:

  • that the testator be dying and know it;
  • that the will dispose of personal property only (as opposed to real property);
  • that the testator indicate to the witnesses that he wishes them to witness his oral will;
  • that there be three (or some other specified number) witnesses over the age of 14 years (or other age); and
  • that probate of the will be made within six months from the time the words are spoken unless they are reduced to writing within six (or other number) days after being spoken.