Are Handwritten or Holographic Wills Valid in Michigan?

If a person sits down at his kitchen table and writes a will on a piece of paper he had in a drawer, is that handwritten will valid under Michigan law? Yes, the handwritten will can be a valid will if it meets all requirements for a holographic will under Michigan statutes.

Why would someone write their will instead of contacting a Michigan estate planning attorney? Some people want to save money by creating a DIY will. Other people may believe they do not have time because their death is imminent. Whatever the reason may be, it is typically best to work with a Michigan probate lawyer to ensure your will is legally valid so the court will uphold your will against a challenge.

What is a Holographic Will?

Most people are familiar with the requirements for a typical will in Michigan. The will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and signed by at least two witnesses. However, the statute also describes a holographic will.

holographic will is a handwritten will signed and dated by the testator. The will must be in the testator’s handwriting, but witnesses are not required for the will to be valid. It must also be evident that the testator intended the handwritten will to be his final will. A court can recognize holographic wills, provided the wills meet these minimum requirements.

However, handwritten wills may not be in the best interest of the testator or the heirs. It may sound tempting to handwrite your will because it saves you money and time. Unfortunately, your heirs may realize that your desire to create a holographic will is going to cost them far more than you would have paid an estate planning attorney in Michigan to assist you with your will and estate plan.

Potential Problems With Holographic Wills

Proving that the testator wrote the will is one of the common problems that arise when probating a holographic will. A family member may contest the will by claiming that the handwriting is not the handwriting of the testator. Without witnesses, the parties must hire handwriting experts to analyze the will. In addition to the process being costly and time-consuming, the handwriting expert could make a mistake, which may result in a valid will be thrown out or the court accepting an invalid will.

Another common problem with holographic wills has to do with the language used by the testator. If the terms in the will are not clear, the court could rule that section of the will invalid, or the judge could throw out the entire will. Additionally, individuals who write their own wills often leave our key terms that protect the testator’s property and the heirs.  A person may leave out heirs or property or may neglect to name a guardian and trustee for minor children. Numerous things could go wrong when someone handwrites their will.

Working with a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney

The attorneys of The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry, CELA assist clients in developing comprehensive estate plans. Our lawyers also assist clients with simple wills. We tailor our services to your need.

An estate planning attorney drafts your will to withstand a challenge. Your attorney understands how to take your desires and goals and turn those into a will and other estate planning documents that will be respected by the probate court.

Other reasons why you need a Michigan estate attorney to prepare your will include:

  • You need an estate plan that also protects your rights and wishes if you become incapacitated;
  • You want to ensure that your will is valid so you can avoid an intestate estate. If you do not have a valid will when you die, state intestate laws direct the distribution of your property.
  • You can save your heirs time and money by ensuring your will is legally valid with clear terms.
  • A lawyer is an objective voice in the room. Planning your estate can be an emotional experience. It helps to have an objective person to help you make critical decisions regarding your estate.
  • You do not get a “do over.” When you pass away, your will and estate plan cannot be changed. Only a court can modify your will based on evidence, such as fraud, duress, or lack of capacity.


Call 888-390-4360 or use the contact form on our website to request a consultation with an attorney.

Castle Wealth Group Legal in Media

Send Us a Message