#7 – Making a Will

by Evan on May 17, 2010


Disaster Prep can run the gamut of preparing for holing up at home to a mad dash to run away. Food Storage protects during financial crisis, quarantine from disease, or simply unexpectedly running out of “eggs.” The “Grab and Go” kit is for sudden disasters that run you out of your home with little or no warning; flood, fire, attacking aliens. Some family members may not survive.

Such disaster could leave your family in the quandary of deciding, “What do we do with Dad’s stuff.” You can leave it up to the constabulary and governmental representatives, (Trust me, I’m from the Government!). Or you can do it yourself.

About half of the American states recognize the “Holographic Will.” Our dear California is one of those that do. This from Wikipedia:
(italics added)

A holographic will is a will and testament that has been entirely handwritten and signed by the testator. Normally, a will must be signed by witnesses attesting to the validity of the testator’s signature and intent, but in many jurisdictions, holographic wills that have not been witnessed are treated equally to witnessed wills and need only to meet minimal requirements in order to be probated:

There must be evidence that the testator actually created the will, which can be proved through the use of witnesses, handwriting experts, or other methods.

The testator must have had the intellectual capacity to write the will, although there is a presumption that a testator had such capacity unless there is evidence to the contrary.

The testator must be expressing a wish to direct the distribution of his estate to beneficiaries.

Make sure that holographic Wills are allowed in your state before you consider using one. Even in the few states that allow you to use a holographic Will, there may be very specific requirements. For example, California requires that all sections of the Will that are necessary to make the Will valid must be written entirely by hand, and that the person writing the Will must sign it. If these state rules aren’t followed, the holographic Will won’t be valid. These rules may vary from state to state!

Holographic wills are often created in emergency situations, such as when the testator is alone, trapped and near death. Jurisdictions that do not generally recognize unwitnessed holographic wills will accordingly grant exceptions to members of the armed services who are involved in armed conflicts and sailors at sea, though in both cases the validity of the holographic will expires at a certain time after it is drafted.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the shortest will in the world as “All to wife,” which clearly meets the minimum requirements. On June 8, 1948 in Saskatchewan, Canada, a farmer named Cecil George Harris who had become trapped under his own tractor carved a will into the tractor’s fender. It read “In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo. Harris” The fender was probated and stood as his will. The fender is currently on display at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law law library..

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