Are Handwritten Wills Legal in Louisiana?

Are Handwritten Wills Legal in Louisiana?
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Each state has laws that dictate what constitutes a valid last will and testament. Louisiana law allows for handwritten wills, alternately referred to as either "holographic" or "olographic" wills, but only under specific circumstances. Louisiana's laws on wills can be complicated and difficult to understand, so contact a qualified attorney if you need legal advice about a will in Louisiana.

Olographic Wills

Louisiana Civil Code article 1575 allows people to make an olographic will. The testator, the person making the will, must write it in his own handwriting. Further, the testator must sign and date the will, also in his own handwriting. The testator does not need to sign and date the will at the end of the document, and any writing that occurs after the signature is equally valid. There is no specific form required, nor does the testator need to sign in the presence of witnesses.

Revocations and Amendments

A testator can change the terms of a will at any time as long as she remains of sound mind. This means that the testator must be able to understand what the will states and that it accurately reflects her desires regarding her property. In the case of holographic wills, the testator can revoke any prior will by writing a new one or physically destroying the original will document. A new will can explicitly revoke the old will by stating something along the lines of "all old wills are hereby revoked," or implicitly revoke it by containing provisions that are contrary to those in the old will.

Outside Wills

Louisiana law also allows for handwritten wills that may not necessarily comply with Louisiana law. Louisiana Revised Statutes section 9:2401 states that the testator can create a will outside of Louisiana, and that will applies to the testator's property in the state if it complies with the laws of the state in which it was drafted. However, the will must be in writing and must be signed by the testator.

Notorial Wills

Louisiana also allows people to write non-olographic wills, generally referred to as notorial wills. A notorial will is one that is written, signed by the testator, signed by two witnesses and signed by a notary. The testator must sign in the presence of the notary and the two adult witnesses but can, if physically unable to sign, direct another person to sign the will on his behalf. The witnesses must be at least 16 years old and must be able to sign their names.