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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

The potential problems with a handwritten will

Sometimes, people in the Nashville area try to take care of their estate planning themselves in order to save money. But, as the saying goes, you often get what you pay for.

For example, writing out your will by hand can seem like a fast, cheap option compared with working with an estate planning attorney to draft a typewritten one. A will that the testator writes out themselves is known as a holographic will.

While holographic wills were relatively common decades and centuries ago, they are fairly rare today. In fact, several states no longer accept holographic wills as valid, though Tennessee’s probate laws still recognize them. So if you have a holographic will and move to a state that does not recognize them, you may be stuck with no will at all.

But that is just one problem with holographic wills. Perhaps the main difficulty is the fact that most people do not know the specific requirements of making a will legally valid. There are procedures that you must meet, or after you pass away, the probate judge will not accept your will. Nor do they know how to phrase their wishes in a manner that will guarantee they will be carried out. That could mean that your final wishes for your legacy will not be honored.

Larry King’s holographic will disinherits his wife

Holographic wills have been in the news since shortly after broadcaster Larry King died in January. It came to light that King wrote a holographic will in 2019, in which he states his intention to disinherit his wife. The couple was still married but in the process of getting divorced. Instead, King wrote, he wanted “100% of my funds to be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Larry Jr., Chance & Cannon.” Andy and Chaia both died the following year.

Investing in legal help makes sense

It is not clear if King hired an estate planning attorney to help with the will. If so, it is likely he went against the lawyer’s advice by writing it out by hand. An estate planning attorney’s advice can help you achieve your goals for keeping your family financially secure while minimizing the impact of probate and taxes.


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