Holographic Wills: Legal in Maryland? September 19th, 2016
Holographic wills (wills that are entirely handwritten) are not generally recognized as valid wills in the state of Maryland. Why? It’s not because they’re handwritten, but because holographic wills are usually not ‘witnessed’ properly.
Wills, including holographic wills, that are executed in Maryland should be signed and dated in the presence of two witnesses. Each witness must be:
1. Mentally competent
2. At least 18 years old
3. Unrelated — not a beneficiary, personal representative, executor, or guardian under the will (in other words, witnesses should have no potential to benefit from your will — never allow your children, spouse or other relatives sign as witnesses)
As with any DIY solution, holographic wills are subject to exceptions. If the will was created outside of the state (even outside of the country), for instance, it may be valid without proper witnesses depending on the laws of the state (or country) in which it was drafted.
Attorney Review: the Missing Factor
We know that the temptation to create holographic wills (or handwritten wills) can be based on the expense and inconvenience of working with a law firm to create such a “simple” document. But that’s why we—and other estate planning firms around the country—are working hard to provide alternatives like GranatWills. Not only can answering a questionnaire online be less stressful than drafting your will yourself, but having an attorney review the document is important.
Simple mistakes like typing portions of the will while handwriting others can make it invalid. And mistakes in wording can lead to confusion and misunderstanding of your true intention. That, coupled with the strict rules on using witnesses, is why we strongly discourage the use of holographic wills, especially in the state of Maryland.
What if I’m Named as a Beneficiary in a Holographic Will?
If your parent(s), grandparent(s) or other family members have holographic wills and you are worried about the validity of the will itself, you should take the opportunity (dare we say responsibility?) to have the will reviewed before it’s put to the test. If you’re an Maryland resident, you can call or visit us for a free, no-obligation family consultation to discuss your options on how to ensure that their wishes can be carried out exactly as they would like.