In a gift to probate litigators everywhere, the State of Texas allows you to write your own will, all by yourself. All you need is a pen and piece of paper. Write what you want and sign it. Done. All the law requires of a holographic will is that it be “written wholly in the testator’s handwriting” and “signed by the testator in person.” No typing or preprinted forms allowed.

What should you say? Do what the best lawyers do and copy someone else’s work. Richard M. Alderman has good forms in his book, Know Your Rights! (9th Edition).

Typed and printed wills, whether downloaded from the internet or prepared by a lawyer, require two witnesses, who sign when the testator signs. A holographic will is the only one you can do without anyone else’s help.

Click here for an affidavit to attach to your holographic will.

A self-proving affidavit is better than nothing, but not by much. If you’re a lawyer, you’ll enjoy reading Estates Code § 251.107.

Testamentary capacity and intent are required of anyone making a will, whether holographic or not. You must know what you’re doing and want to do it. You must be at least eighteen, or else married or a member of the armed forces.

After you’re gone, someone else has to testify that you qualified to make a will. You can’t do that part yourself. By law, probate is not allowed in your lifetime, and so proof always requires someone else’s help.

Two witnesses familiar with your handwriting are required. How many people handwrite anymore? Who will testify? Two elementary school teachers, who haven’t seen you in 75 years? Good luck with that. And someone also has to testify that, at the time you signed the will, you were of sound mind. Your favorite people can testify, but interested witnesses may have to forfeit any gift under the will. Things get complicated quickly.

If you are in love with your holographic will, and refuse to make another one (a more expensive one, with witnesses and maybe even a lawyer), there’s something you can do. You can grab that will, attach it to an affidavit, and swear that you were over eighteen, of sound mind, and have not revoked the will. One model is hyperlinked, above. With a so-called self-proving affidavit, a holographic will needs no further proof. It takes a notary, and the right form, but the extra steps greatly reduce the hassle and expense of probate.

Holographic wills are for Hollywood and death bed planning. If you survived your near-death experience and have enough time for all this, you should probably just do another will.

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