A will must be signed in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses must sign the will in front of the testator. The witnesses should not be named as beneficiaries, and if they are, they could potentially lose their inheritances.
Holographic wills are not legal in the state of Illinois. This is a will that is written up by hand. This being stated, the will has to be in writing. You cannot make an audio or video will, and at the present time, a digital file would not be recognized.
There is no notarization requirement in the state of Illinois. In some states, notarization will make a will self-proving, which means that the probate court would not have to contact the witnesses. Here in Illinois, a will is self-proving if it is correctly signed and witnessed.
Holographic Wills Gone Bad
An interesting and instructive case that involved the utilization of holographic wills played itself out in the public eye back in 2012. During that year, the painter Thomas Kinkade died of acute intoxication after taking diazepam, which is generic Valium, while he was drinking heavily.
At the time, he was living with this girlfriend of 18 months, Amy Pinto-Walsh. He was actually married but separated during this interim, but his wife, Nanette, had filed for divorce a couple of years before his passing.
Nanette was not accepting of Pinto-Walsh’s involvement in the painter’s life, and she was forbidden from attending the funeral. Nanette Kinkade also filed a lawsuit against her for violation of a confidentiality agreement.
Pinto-Walsh came forward with two holographic wills that were supposedly written by Thomas Kinkade in his own handwriting. In the first will, he left his girlfriend his home, a neighboring property, and $10 million.
The second will appeared to be a clarification of the first one with regard to the way that the $10 million would be utilized. It stated that Pinto-Walsh should use the money to establish a museum that would house Kinkade’s works.
Holographic wills are legal in the state of California, but there was an extenuating circumstance. These documents were hardly legible, and there was some question as to the actual testator because a professional painter would not have such horrific handwriting.
Of course, there is another way to interpret the illegibility since Kinkade had a very bad alcohol problem. He could have created the wills while he was very intoxicated, and this would not necessarily mean that he was not capable of making sound decisions.
Ultimately, the court did not have to rule on the case, because the two women reached a settlement that has remained secret.
Kinkade could have simply gone to an estate planning lawyer to execute a proper plan that provided for the people that he cared about in an effective manner.
Attend a Free Seminar!
We have always made an effort to connect with members of our community through our free seminars. When you attend one of these sessions, you will come away with a great deal of important information, and it is presented in a concise and down to earth manner.
These events were put on hold when the pandemic was at its peak, but we are starting to conduct them once again, and it is a good feeling. There is no charge to attend our seminars, but we do ask that you register in advance so we can reserve your spot.
You can see the dates if you visit our seminar schedule page, and when you identify the session that works for you, follow the instructions to register.
Need Help Now?
If you already know that it is time for you to work with a Naperville or North Aurora, Illinois estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, we are here to help.
We know that it can be difficult to discuss personal matters with an attorney you have just met, but when you choose our firm, you can rest assured that you will feel comfortable from the start.
You can schedule a consultation appointment if you call us at 630-568-8611, and you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message