When your loved one passed, you may not have known whether he or she had created a formal estate plan. As a direct heir, you may have anticipated receiving assets from the estate, nonetheless. However, when someone else came forward with a handwritten note claiming your loved one had written down his or her wishes, you may have understandably felt skeptical.
You may have immediately thought the handwritten document (or scrap of paper) would never pass as a legal will. It may surprise you to know that the state of Nevada does recognize handwritten wills as valid. These documents are known as holographic wills and do not follow the same requirements for validation as formal wills do.
Requirements still exist
Though a holographic will does not have to meet the same stipulations as a formally drawn will, it must still meet certain requirements to pass the validation process. First, the written will must have the testator’s signature. Additionally, the handwriting of the document and signature must be compared to other writing of the testator to ensure that he or she actually wrote the will.
A handwritten will does not require witness signatures or notarization for the state to consider it valid. While this may seem like a simple way to create a will, it can lead to conflict if family members do not believe in its validity.
Why are they questionable?
You may have concerns over a handwritten will for many reasons. For example, is the person who brought forth the document a seemingly random person with little connection to your loved one? Do the terms of the will leave out close family members or leave it all to one person? Does the handwriting not match that of your loved one? Is there reason to believe that your loved one did not have the mental capacity to write a will when this one was created?
These and many other thoughts have likely already crossed your mind, and now, you may worry that your loved one’s estate will end up in the hands of an undesired party. However, before you start thinking of worst-case scenarios, you may want to remember that you have legal options for contesting a will, even a holographic one. If you believe that the court should not consider the document valid, you may want to consider taking legal steps to address the matter.