Between COVID and some personal family matters, wills and estate plans have been a common theme lately both at work and at home.
The short answer is…yes, a handwritten will (known as an olographic will) can be “good enough”.
The important thing, though, is that the handwritten will must be entirely written (not typed), signed, and dated in the handwriting of the testator.
If these conditions aren’t met, the will won’t (ha..) be considered valid. Not to mention, an olographic will is not ironclad. It can be contested if it is believed that it was created improperly, like under duress. But it will probably work in a pinch.
WHY WOULD I NEED A HANDWRITTEN WILL?
You might want to write a will if you know your death is imminent and you don’t think you have enough time to have a lawyer make one for you
You might want a will if you are traveling with your spouse and want your wishes for your children to be documented in the event of a tragedy (as in…the kids should go to the normal uncle and not the crazy aunt).
You might want a will if you have some property or belongings that you want to specifically go to a certain person if you die.
Maybe you can’t sleep one night because you are suddenly consumed with anxiety about what will happen to your prized rare coin collection if you died in your sleep, and scratching down your wishes gives you the peace of mind to help you fall back asleep.
Or maybe like in that weird movie Knives Out, you discover your entire family basically sucks, especially the nephew who tried to poison you, and you decide in your last hours that you want your vast fortune to go to the sweet housekeeper who has taken great care of you all these years instead of your slimy family.
In situations like these (most likely the former, not the latter), an olographic will may help you feel like you have done something to prepare for an unexpected tragedy. But I would still really recommend sitting down with a lawyer who can help you with the “what ifs” and can construct your will in such a way that reduces the chance of your wishes being ignored after your death.
NOT-SO-FUN-FACT: The “reading of the will” that you see on tv doesn’t actually happen in real life. But if you want it to, you should probably put that in your will..:)