Traditionally, wills are the number one way that one generation passes its wealth to the next — which is why the exact form a will can take is the subject of numerous laws and regulations that vary greatly from state to state. In many states, holographic wills — wills that are handwritten by the testator rather than typed documents prepared by an attorney — aren’t even legal.
In Nebraska, however, they are. Typically, the main difference between a normal will and a holographic will is that the standards for what makes a holographic will valid are somewhat relaxed. A holographic will does not have to be witnessed, so long as the signature of the testator is present and material portions are in the testator’s own hand.
Normally, a handwritten will must be dated in order to be valid — but there are exceptions. If the date is missing, the court may still consider the holographic will valid if there are no other wills in existence or the date can be determined from other evidence.
Does this mean that you should forgo a trip to the attorney’s office and handle all your estate plans — including your will — by hand? Absolutely not. A handwritten will is far more likely to be challenged by an unhappy heir — and a testator’s lack of legal knowledge could result in unclear wording that creates an issue.
If you’re an adult 18 years of age or older, you should have a will. If you die without one, the state — not you or your loved ones — will have the final say over what happens to the things that you own. This could mean added expense and grief for your loved ones.