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What is a holographic will?

Second only to seeing that a testator's wishes are followed upon his or her death, perhaps the second-most essential aspect of a will is to ensure that it is enforceable and can survive a legal challenge. This second consideration underlies the requirement under Nevada law that a will be signed in the presence of two valid witnesses. But is it possible to make a valid will without any witnesses? Any if so, is it advisable to make such a will?

The answer to the first question above is, "Yes." It is possible to avoid the witness requirement if you prepare what is known as a "holographic will." What is a holographic will, you ask? Contrary to what the term may suggest to the imagination, it is not a high-tech, three-dimensional digital recording of you standing there, verbally telling people what you want from beyond the grave. In the legal sense, "holographic" has a much more mundane meaning: it is a substitute for, "handwritten." If you are so inclined, you can write out your will by hand and sign it, and in Nevada that will suffice to make a legal will even if there is no one there to witness it for you.

As to the second question -- do you really want to make a holographic will -- the answer is, "Maybe, but why?" Although avoiding the need for two witnesses may seem like a convenience for anyone who cannot come up with anyone willing to act in that capacity, holographic wills have one possibly serious weakness that arises from the same absence of witnesses: if anyone wants to challenge your will, there will be no one available to support what you have written. It will be effectively your word against the challenger, and you will not be there to back up your side.

Preparing a holographic will, although certianly a legal option available to you in Nevada, is something that you should carefully consider the pros and cons of before grabbing your pen. A law firm that is experienced with drafting valid wills and trusts can help to advise you on whether a holographic will is right for you, and answer any other will-related questions that you may have.

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