Robert Porter of Kerville, Texas was trapped in his car for three days recently. The 85-year-old World War II veteran did not think he would survive, so he decided to write his Last Will and Testament — on his car console. Fortunately, Porter was rescued and his car-console Will was never executed.
Handwritten or “holographic” Wills are legal, in Texas and other states, even if they are not witnessed. Such Wills must be entirely in the testator’s handwriting and signed by him or her. Porter’s situation was not even unique — in 1948 a Canadian court admitted a Will written on the fender of a tractor that had trapped and killed a farmer.
However, holographic Wills are not reliable estate planning tools. If any provision of such a Will is ambiguous, unclear or even illegible, a court may have to construe the meaning, adding to the time and expense of administering an estate.
Before you find yourself in an emergency situation, it is important to create a Will with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. A traditional Will prepared by your attorney and properly witnessed may not grab any future headlines — but they will ensure your estate is properly distributed in accordance with your wishes.