Summary: Holographic (handwritten) wills are prone to disburse specific property to specific individuals without naming someone in a residuary clause. This creates a situation of having some property disbursed under the holographic will and having other property disbursed under intestate law.
A holographic (hand-written) will need not be dated nor name an executor to be valid. The requirements for a valid holographic will in Tennessee are as follows: No witness to a holographic will is necessary, but the signature and all its material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator and the testator's handwriting must be proven by two (2) witnesses. Tenn. Code Ann. § 32-1-105. A holographic will, when the requirements of the statute are complied with, is of the same dignity as a will attested by subscribing witnesses.
While a holographic will must contain the signature of the testator, and the testator's handwriting must be proven by two witnesses in court upon probate, in Tennessee, it is not necessary to its validity that a testator's name appear at the end of a holographic will. Rather, it is sufficient that his [or her] name is subscribed elsewhere in the will. But the statute must be complied with and the name must appear somewhere in the will.
Holographic wills are often made by the elderly writing on their own. Waiver of inventory, accounting and bond are often overlooked. These wills are also prone to disburse specific property to specific individuals without naming someone in a residuary clause. If all the property is not disbursed by the holographic will and there is no residuary clause, the property not disbursed goes to the surviving spouse or children, if any, or else closest living relatives under intestate law. This creates a situation of having some property disbursed under the holographic will and having other property disbursed under intestate law.
Although Tennessee law grants the luxury of
recognizing holographic wills, these wills can often cause problems unless an
executor is named; inventory, accounting and bond are waived; and a residuary
clause is contained therein for disbursal of whatever property has not been
Marshall M. Snyder
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