Legal Insurance

What Is a Holographic Will?

2 min read
Dec 01, 2022

Holographic wills are handwritten and signed documents the creator of a will puts together.  Also known as holographic wills, these estate planning documents are used less commonly than a standard living will.

Do courts accept handwritten wills?

Not every state will accept a holographic will because they aren’t witnessed or notarized, making them more difficult to validate in probate. In states that do accept holographic wills, the testator’s signature is typically required. During probate, handwriting experts, family, or friends familiar with the testator may need to confirm the signature.

Holographic wills must also meet the same standards as regular wills. Beneficiaries must be named explicitly along with clear instructions for how to distribute the testator’s estate. Probate must also conclude that the will was drafted while the testator was of sound mind. This is sometimes more difficult to accomplish, since a holographic will doesn’t require a witness.

Where are holographic wills accepted?

States that accept holographic wills — at least to some degree — include:
















New Jersey

North Carolina

North Dakota

South Dakota







West Virginia



Keep in mind that each state may have their own holographic will requirements. Some states, including Maryland and New York, will only accept holographic wills made by members of the Armed Forces — and only for one year after they’re discharged, as long as they’re of sound mind.

Other states only recognize holographic wills under the foreign will provision, meaning the testament is only recognized as valid if it was drafted in a state where holographic wills are accepted. States with foreign provisions for holographic wills include:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Washington

Should I create a holographic will?

In most cases, holographic wills aren’t the ideal form of final testament. They’re difficult to verify in probate and may not be accepted as a legal document. It’s always a good idea to create a will with the help of an estate planning attorney. They’ll be at your side to ensure your final testament is airtight.

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Group legal plans are administered by MetLife Legal Plans, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. In California, this entity operates under the name MetLife Legal Insurance Services. In certain states, group legal plans are provided through insurance coverage underwritten by Metropolitan General Insurance Company, Warwick, RI. Payroll deduction required for group legal plans. For costs and complete details of the coverage, call or write the company.