A holographic will sounds like something very futuristic, but in fact, it is as old-school as it gets. This is a will that is drawn up by hand without any witnesses to the signing, and they are legal in about half of the states in the union.
Here in Ohio, holographic wills are not recognized. We should emphasize the fact that a handwritten will that is properly witnessed would be valid, but technically, it would not be a holographic will.
The Thomas Kinkade Holographic Will Saga
The painter Thomas Kinkade died on April 6, 2012, after taking Valium and consuming copious quantities of alcohol. He was just 54 years old at the time, and he was in possession of a fortune with an estimated value of over $100 million.
At the time of his death, he was living with his girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh. They had been together for about a year and a half, but Kinkade was legally married at the time of his death.
His wife Nanette had filed for divorce two years before his death, and they were legally separated during that interim. Apparently, the situation was not amicably accepted by Nanette.
She prevented Pinto-Walsh from attending the funeral. She also filed a breach of confidentiality lawsuit against Kinkade’s live-in girlfriend.
The problem for Nanette Kinkade was the fact that Amy Pinto-Walsh was in possession of two holographic wills that were allegedly created by Thomas Kinkade.
While the case was in probate, she presented the documents to the court, and the first one left her $10 million along with his house and a neighboring property.
The second document was the same, with one exception. It stated that the $10 million was to be used to establish a museum that would display Thomas Kinkade’s work.
These documents were hardly legible, and it appeared as though he wrote them when he was extremely intoxicated. This does not necessarily mean that the documents were not valid, because a person could potentially know what they are doing when they are drunk.
This situation was quite a mess, but the two parties eventually worked out a settlement, so the court did not have to make a final decision. It is a so-called “secret settlement,” so the details were never made public.
Requirements for a Legal Will in Ohio
If you are going to draw up a will as a resident of Ohio, our first recommendation is to create the will well before happy hour begins. Secondly, you have to list your assets and make decisions with regard to the inheritances that each person will be receiving.
Another major decision that you have to make is the choice of an executor. The executor will be charged with the administration of the estate, so you should select someone with a good bit of business acumen. There are professional fiduciaries that provide estate administration services if you do not know anyone that is a suitable candidate.
You should name a guardian for your children in your will if you have young ones still living at home. After you have covered all of these bases, you must sign the will in front of two witnesses, and they must sign it in your presence.
A will can be valid even if it is not notarized, however, there is reason to go to a notary. During probate, there is a “proving of the will,” and the court has to contact the witnesses to attest to the validity of the document.
If you get it notarized, it would be a self-proving will, and this step would not be necessary.
Consider a Living Trust
There are some people that think that a simple will is the right document to use because trusts are only for the wealthy. This is completely false, because the revocable living trust can be the ideal solution for people of relatively ordinary means.
Asset transfers that are facilitated through the terms of a living trust are not subject to probate. This is a court supervised process that is time-consuming and costly, so the probate avoidance is a very positive benefit.
You can also include spendthrift protections when you have a living trust, and the administration process is streamlined because of the consolidation of asset ownership.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We are here to help if you are ready to work with a Cincinnati estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 513-721-1513.