What Everyone Ought to Know About Valid Wills in Louisiana

 

We get questions everyday on whether a handwritten will is valid in Louisiana. Should I have a handwritten will? Should the will be typed? What if it's handwritten and it's notarized? We get all of those questions all of the time. Let me lay it out for you.

In Louisiana there's two kinds of valid wills. The one that we see most often by far is what's called the notarial will. It's the kind of wills that we prepare where it's all typed up and has all of the correct language in there that makes it a valid will. It has all of the proper bequests, executor designations, all the other legal stuff. There's a special clause at the end, it's signed on each page, it's notarized, it has to be witnessed by two people. So there's a lot of formality requirements that go into making a valid notarial will. Those are the the ones that are done most often. That's what we recommend.

In Louisiana, our state allows what's called olographic wills or hand-written wills. They scare me to death. Yes, it is a valid will if you do it in your own handwriting, do it on your own, you sign it, you date it. However, the question for me is not, "Is it a valid will?" The question is always, "Does it do what it needs to do?" If you write one word the wrong way it could cause havoc among your surviving family members. It's kind of like a doctor. Can you do your own surgery? Sure, but you may mess it up. Wills are the same way. Can you do your own will? Sure, but don't mess it up. You could be creating more problems than if you had no will at all. I also write a lot more about that in my book "Estate Planning in Louisiana." Feel free to check that out. But yes, handwritten wills, if they meet the necessary requirements, are valid. But they often do more harm than good because the person who wrote the will is not properly trained in how to write a will to cover all the things that need to be covered in it. So be aware of that.