The (Hand) Writing’s on the Wall
In Ontario, a valid Holograph Will, by definition, is made and signed entirely in the handwriting of the testator. While this sounds simple enough, such documents often invite litigation.
For the person propounding such a Will, the first objective is to prove that the handwriting is that of the alleged testator. Of course, another distinctive feature of a Holograph Will is the absence of witnesses. Proving the identity of the author of a Holograph Will therefore usually requires expert analysis of the handwriting. The expert may encounter difficulties. Rather than writing a Holograph Will in her ordinary handwriting, the testator may have printed the document.
To successfully prove the handwriting of the testator, an expert typically requires several samples of the testator’s signature and writing style. In the absence of such samples (and in the absence of witnesses) it is far from a certainty that the Will can be proved. Further complicating matters is the absence of the original.
While a copy of a Will can be proved in the right circumstances, the absence of witnesses makes it more difficult to prove a copy of a holograph will. On a final note, Holograph Wills frequently give rise to questions of interpretation.
Until next time,