Drafting a Last Will and Testament is a core component of every elder law practice. I help clients work out the details of how they want possessions and other assets distributed after death. But, occasionally, I meet someone who does not want to incur the modest cost, delay or inconvenience of having an attorney draft or update his or her Last Will and Testament. He or she prefers to make a handwritten Will. Is such a Will legal in Tennessee? Generally, yes. The Tennessee statute on Wills recognizes the validity of holographic or handwritten Wills. T.C.A. § 32-1-105.
Be mindful if you are considering drafting a handwritten or holographic Will:
• The holographic Will must be entirely in the author’s (testator’s) own handwriting, dated, and signed.
• The holographic Will does not have to be witnessed, but your personal representative will ultimately have to prove your handwriting in court by two witnesses.
• It is all too easy to leave out an important part of the Will and ultimately leave your beneficiaries with problems that they have to work out in court, which can be expensive and time consuming.
To be assured that your property will pass to your beneficiaries as you intend, consult with an attorney about your Will.