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Handwritten Wills Checklist

A “holographic” will is simply a will that is entirely in your own handwriting. Houston Volunteer Lawyers created this checklist.

These instructions explain the steps to create a holographic will in Texas.  Each step includes a link to the form or forms needed for that step.  Click on the step to expand it with more information.

Have you read the Do-It-Yourself Guide for Handwritten Wills? It’s important to read that Frequently Asked Questions included with the toolkit before getting started.

WARNING! These instructions provide general information, not legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.

You can print these instructions to use as a checklist.

To print both the instructions and forms, click here. 


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Step 1: Prepare.

Before you start:

  • Make a list of your valuable and important belongings. Examples may include:
    • bank account,
    • home,
    • car,
    • family heirlooms,
    • etc. 
  • Decide who you want to receive each of these belongings. It is ok if it is all to the same person or to different people. It is your will and you get to decide.
  • Choose someone you trust to be in charge of giving out this property the way you will describe in your will. This person will be the independent executor.
  • Review the instructions and samples


Step 2: Gather your materials.

You will need the following:

  • Clean sheet of paper.
  • Ink pen (preferably blue, but any color will do). 


Step 3: Create.

Now you just have to write your will. Write your will using the instructions and samples



Step 4: Review.

Take a look at what you just wrote and make sure you can say yes to all of the following:

  • Did I hand-write the entire will?
  • Could a stranger read my handwriting and understand what I wrote?
  • Does it say this is my will?
  • Is it clear who I want to receive my property?
  • Did I write who I wanted to be the will’s “independent executor”?
  • Did I write that I wanted the “independent executor” to “serve without bond”?
  • Does it have the date?
  • Did I sign it? 


Step 5: Protect.

To make sure your will is honored upon your death, do the following:

  • Put your original will somewhere safe (like a sandwich bag in your freezer).
  • Tell your “independent executor” where you placed the original will. 

If you ever change your mind about who you want to receive your belongings, follow the instructions in this packet to create a new will. Be sure to (1) tear up your old will, and (2) tell your “independent executor” if you move the will to another location.