What is a Holographic Will?

Heard of holographic Wills? It’s just a fancy way of saying a handwritten Will. Learn more in this guide.
What is a Holographic Will?

Just to address the elephant in the room – a holographic Will has nothing to do with those blue Star Wars holograms (just to clear that up). They are simply Wills that you write and sign in your handwriting… So apologies if you were expecting a bit of sci-fi intel today. 

Ahead, learn the instances in which holographic Wills are created, their limitations and other fun facts about handwritten Wills.

Are holographic Wills recognised in Australia?

Yes, holographic or handwritten Wills are legally recognised in Australia, although they must comply with the legislative requirements that are outlined in the relevant state or territory’s Wills Act.

Every Australian state or territory has specific conditions that must be met for a Will to be considered valid. The main focus is on the Willmaker’s intention, the Will’s clarity and the witnessing provisions. In other words, there must be evidence that the Willmaker actually created the Will, but this can be proved through witnesses or handwriting experts, for example.

Are holographic Wills recognised globally?

In some parts of the world, holographic Wills are only acknowledged under specific circumstances, such as when the individual making the Will is isolated, in imminent danger, or facing death. While some legal jurisdictions typically do not validate unwitnessed holographic Wills, they may make exceptions for military personnel engaged in active combat or sailors navigating at sea. However, even in these cases, the holographic Will's validity is limited and expires after a certain period from its creation.

Can I write a handwritten Will?

While it’s possible to write your own holographic Will, it’s risky. Handwritten Wills might not have the legal expertise to handle complex situations properly. This could cause arguments and uncertainty when settling the estate after your death. They’re also more likely to be challenged as invalid, especially when dealing with things like retirement funds, trusts, or businesses. When in doubt, engage the help of a Wills and Estates lawyer (*ahem* – or write your legal Will online today).

Does a holographic Will need to be witnessed?

As we’ve discussed earlier, where a holographic Will is recognised, it can be an option for a person whose death is imminent, provided no other Will exists and no witnesses are available. However, sometimes Willmakers can’t afford the legal costs or do not have the resources to meet with a lawyer, so in this case, they may choose to make their wishes known in this way.

If they have the resources, some people also choose to create a supplementary video Will, in which they record themselves reading the document aloud. While video Wills aren't typically legally binding by themselves, when they accompany a written Will, they can serve to confirm the individual’s identity and mental capacity at the time of creating the Will.

Wrap up 

Holographic Will complications are relatively common, as it can be difficult to prove their validity with no witnesses, and they are easier to contest. If your loved one has made a holographic Will, you can contact the probate court in the state or territory in which the Will was created to find out what guidelines are in place.

Looking for legal advice? Our team of lawyers are the perfect people for the job. Contact us today.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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