What is a holographic will under Nevada law?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Wills

Wills are some of the most common documents used for estate planning purposes. Provided that they are legally valid, wills can achieve many important legacy goals. An individual’s will can name a guardian for their children, a personal representative to manage their estate and beneficiaries for their assets.

Many testators thinking about their legacies in Nevada work with an attorney to draft documents that abide by state law and achieve their personal legacy goals. Yet, there are other types of wills beyond the professional, typed documents people would typically produce when cooperating with attorneys. For example, some Nevada testators will create holographic wills. What is a holographic will, and can it hold up in probate court?

A holographic will is handwritten

While the word holographic may conjure thoughts of a projected or reflected image, a holographic will is simply a handwritten document where the description of what should happen to someone’s property and the date are handwritten by the testator. The document will also need to include the testator’s signature. It does not require any witnesses or notarization.

Technically, the Nevada probate courts can choose to uphold holographic wills. However, there are many reasons for concern when someone leaves behind an unwitnessed, unnotarized holographic will. There could be questions about their testamentary capacity that might lead to challenges and probate court. Family members may also worry about the risk of fraud, as some people can convincingly imitate the handwriting of others.

While the Nevada probate courts may uphold a holographic will, such documents often lead to family conflict and uncertainty among beneficiaries. The courts might potentially invalidate the document if there is any question about either its authenticity or the mental state of the testator at the time of its creation. There are also risks associated with an individual unfamiliar with the law attempting to create a legally-binding document.

Those who want to leave resources for specific family members and who have specific plans about their legacies will often benefit more from working with the professional to create witnessed and legally accurate documents as opposed to attempting to draft their own documents without support.