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What is a holographic will and are they legal in Minnesota?

Even Minnesota residents who have heard of a holographic will may not know exactly what this kind of document is. A holographic will is actually a will written in the handwriting of the person making the will, known as the testator, and then signed and dated by the testator.

In some states, a holographic will serves as an exception to the general rule that wills are formal documents that must be signed in the presence of witnesses. Proponents of holographic wills say that it would be very difficult for a person to forge another's handwriting so well and so consistently that a fake holographic will would pass for the real thing.

Taking a more cautious approach, Minnesota courts simply refuse to recognize holographic wills. In will contests, a handwritten will receives no credence whatsoever if it doesn't meet any of the other formal requirements, and the person advocating for that will is all but certain to lose his or her case. A person on the verge of death may well need to make a will in a hurry, but Minnesota law offers no exception to the state requirement that wills be signed by at least two people who either saw the testator sign the document or who heard the testator later acknowledge that the will was his or her creation.

People who are creating their wills want to make sure they leave behind a meaningful legacy for their loved ones or favorite charities. They don't want to leave their survivors with a legal battle. Therefore, they need to make sure their wills meet all formal requirements and sufficiently lay out their instructions. Making and signing an emergency will is possible, but the provision of Minnesota law must be followed in the process.

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Mason & Helmers
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