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Stachler Harmon Attorneys at Law Oct. 25, 2017

Suppose a disaster strikes, sudden injury or illness affects your family, or a loved one is trapped and alone—in emergency situations like this, a holographic will may be the only option left for many people. A holographic will is one that is entirely handwritten by the person creating it and done without a lawyer involved. These are usually signed by the person who made it, but in some states, they are still legally binding when not signed.

In Ohio, a holographic will does need to be signed to be considered legal, but handwritten wills are acceptable as long as they meet other specific criteria. If you discover a loved one has written a will by hand, or if you need to write your will in this manner, you need to make sure it meets these standards to hold up in court.

Criteria for A Holographic Will to Be Legal in Ohio

Ensure that the following standards are met with any will, and specifically with any handwritten ones.

  • Clear evidence that the person who signed the will also wrote it—proving this is done through witnesses, handwriting analysis, or various other methods

  • General belief that the writer of the will was of sound mind while they wrote it

  • The writer must be 18 years old or older

  • The writer needs to express the wish to pass their estate to named beneficiaries to consider it a legal will

  • Some exceptions can be made for those in the armed forces or at sea

  • The will must be signed in front of two competent witnesses, or the witnesses need to hear the writer acknowledge their signature

Interestingly, the shortest will on record was written in Czech, and says merely “everything to wife,” before the man who wrote it passed away. While that will is entirely legal in that situation and location, it is a much better idea to plan for your estate and conduct a legally-binding, thorough will as soon as possible—before an emergency situation happens.