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Are handwritten wills legal in Nevada?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2021 | Estate Planning, Probates & Trusts

The idea of going to an attorney to have your will written seems time-intensive, laborious and a tiny bit intrusive. Can’t you just write your will by hand instead?

Handwritten (or “holographic”) wills are valid in Nevada — but that doesn’t mean they’re a good idea.

What are the requirements for a handwritten will in Nevada?

When it comes to handwritten wills, Nevada is extremely flexible. Holographic wills are not recognized at all in some states and are subject to sharp limitations in others. In Nevada, however, the will merely needs to be in the testator’s own handwriting, signed and dated to be valid. It does not need to be notarized or witnessed to be valid.

So what’s the problem with a handwritten will?

The problem with holographic wills is that they are easily subject to dispute. One or more of your heirs may say that the handwriting and signature on the will don’t look legitimate, which then opens the door to a contested probate. At a minimum, the court will need to find people who can verify your handwriting and signature in order to move forward.

Another problem with holographic wills is that they often contain vague or contradictory clauses, and that can create confusion or cause the court to void the entire document. For example, if you say that you want to leave your “favorite” watch to your oldest son, that’s not enough identifying information. What you consider your favorite and what your oldest son thinks is your favorite may not be the same thing.

Finally, estate planning is about far more than a will. A good estate plan will minimize the drain on your assets through taxes and fees and protect your interests when you’re unable to do so yourself through the creation of powers of attorneys, trusts and other legal instruments.