LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Benjamin I. Hirsch | Sep 25, 2011

What is a Holographic Will in Michigan

A Holographic will is generally defined as a “Will written entirely by the testator in his or her own handwriting and is not witnessed." Black's Law Dictionary 659 (5th ed. 1979)

Each state has different requirements for a valid Holographic Will. Michigan’s requirements are found in MCL 700.2502, and we’ll get to those in a moment.

To begin with, the person making the will is called the Testator if a man, or Testatrix if a woman. Testator (or Testatrix) comes from the Latin “testari" which means to testify.

Holographic simply means handwritted.

The idea of a handwritten will is that the testator was alone and not able to get witnesses, as such, if the will was written entirely in that person’s own handwriting, it was considered sufficient.

Michigan’s law regarding holographic wills is different. MCL 700.2502 states as follows:

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) and in sections 2503, 2506, and 2513, a will is valid only if it is all of the following:

(a) In writing.

(b) Signed by the testator or in the testator's name by some other individual in the testator's conscious presence and by the testator's direction.

(c) Signed by at least 2 individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after he or she witnessed either the signing of the will as described in subdivision (b) or the testator's acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.

(2) A will that does not comply with subsection (1) is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if it is dated, and if the testator's signature and the document's material portions are in the testator's handwriting.

(3) Intent that the document constitutes a testator's will can be established by extrinsic evidence, including, for a holographic will, portions of the document that are not in the testator's handwriting.

So subsection (2) and (3) is what we are looking at. A will is a valid holographic will “whether or not witnessed, if it is dated, and if the testator’s signature and the document’s material portions are in the testator’s handwriting."

Breaking this down, it has to be dated, it has to be signed by the testator, and the material portions have to be in the testators own handwriting.

Material portions will include items such as who is the personal representative of the will, and the distribution scheme (who gets what), and possibly even the testator assigning guardianship or conservatorship of his children to someone, if included.

For the will to be effective as a will, however, it has to be shown that the person writing it intended for it to be his will, and that’s where subparagraph (3) comes into play. It states essentially that the intent of the Testator can be shown in portions of the document that are not in the testators writing.

Although it is possible for someone to do a holographic will, however, it isn’t always advisable. Your best bet would be to seek an Estate Planning Attorney to discuss your options.

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