What's the deal with handwritten Wills?

Is a handwritten Will valid in Georgia? The answer is: maybe.

A handwritten Will* is one where some or all of the Will is written by hand. We have seen some confusion about whether these Wills are valid.

The good news is that Georgia law is consistent: a handwritten Will must follow the same rules as typed Wills: they must be in writing, signed by the person making the Will (called a “Testator”), and witnessed by two people, with the three of them seeing each other sign.**

The confusion comes from the fact that, in some states, a handwritten Will does not need to be witnessed. So, in some states, a handwritten Will is automatically valid. Perhaps the reasoning in those other states is that the handwriting itself is enough to prove that the Testator actually made the Will.

But not in Georgia. Here, a handwritten Will must be signed and witnessed just like a typed Will.

On the other hand, some people believe that a handwritten Will is automatically invalid, even if it is signed and witnessed properly. Again, this is not true in Georgia. A handwritten Will is valid in Georgia so long as it meets the legal requirements: written, signed, and witnessed.

So, to recap. A Will is valid in Georgia if (among other things) it is written, signed, and witnessed properly. Being handwritten does not automatically make a Will valid or invalid.

*Sometimes called a “holographic” Will. Seriously. One definition of holographic involves lasers, the other involves a pen.

**This is oversimplified, a bit. Technically, the witnesses don’t just witness the signing; by signing, the witnesses swear (or “attest”) that the Testator signed the Will.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

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The statements in this blog are generalities, and exceptions exist. And, as always, this post is not legal advice. If you have any questions about this information, please contact us.