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Can You Have a Handwritten Will in Tennessee – and Should You?

Posted on Jul 30 2017 3:20PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Some people decide to do Wills that are written in their own handwriting (handwritten Wills).  It is my advice that this is a very poor decision and you should always consult a Tennessee Wills attorney to help you make sure that this very important document is done correctly.  Even though that is my best advice, I know some people will ignore this advice.  As a result, I will answer the question.  Yes, you can have a handwritten Will but it is a very bad idea.  A handwritten will is called a holographic Will.  A holographic will must be done in the handwriting of the testator. 

 

There are three different types of Wills under Tennessee law that are allowed.

 

(1) Normal Will with execution completed pursuant to T.C.A. § 32-1-104.

(2) Holographic Will pursuant to T.C.A. § 32-1-105 (in handwriting of the testator)

(3) Noncupative Will pursuant to T.C.A. § 32-1-106 (will completed while in imminent peril of death)

 

Under Tennessee law a handwritten or holographic Will must comply with the specific requirements found in T.C.A. § 32-1-105 which provides as follows:

 

No witness to a holographic will is necessary, but the signature and all its material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator and the testator's handwriting must be proved by two (2) witnesses.

 

As a result, in order for a handwritten Will to be enforceable and valid, it must have the signature of the person making the Will.  Also, all of the important provisions in the Will must be in the handwriting of the person making the Will (the testator).  Further, the testator's handwriting in the holographic will must be able to be proved by two witnesses.  Only when these specific requirements are met can a holographic Will be valid under Tennessee law.  Once again, please do not do a handwritten Will.  Inevitably there will be mistakes and things that were not properly considered by the person making the Will.  You need someone to guide you through this process so it is done correctly.

 

Follow me on Twitter at @jasonalee for updates from the Tennessee Wills and Estates blog.

TAGS: Holographic Will, Wills, Witnesses to will, Will Contest, Tennessee Probate Law
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
611 Commerce Street, Suite 2603
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com

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