Don’t Make a Holographic Will Unless You Have No Alternative

Arizona law requires that a will be in writing, signed by the testator and by two witnesses. A will that does not comply with those requirements can nevertheless be valid, however, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the person making the will (that’s the “testator”). Such a will is called a holographic will.

NB Hannah

Nathan B. Hannah, attorney

A holographic will should be used only as a last resort. Getting the will admitted to probate, and the actual administration of the estate, are likely to be much more complicated with a holographic will than with a conventional will. If you have no alternative, however, here’s my template for a holographic will:

The Arizona law that specifies the requirements for a valid holographic will says that the signature and material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator. This means you should write the entire thing out in longhand. It’s not going to be that long anyway. And yes, it has to be ink on paper. Electronic versions can’t be filed with the court, at least not yet.

First, write this:

This is my Will.”

Next, write:

I nominate [insert name here] as my personal representative.”


I give all of my estate to [insert name].”

Finally, if you have children under 18, write this:

I nominate [insert name] as guardian and conservator for my children under age 18.”

Then sign your name and write the date under your name.

Seriously, don’t do this unless you have no alternative. But if you have to make a will this way, it should work.*

*It should work in Arizona, that is. I don’t know what the rules are in other states. This discussion refers only to Arizona law.



I have started using an email encryption program, Citrix ShareFile. I decided to give it a try because of all the talk lately about secure communications. People I work with have told me that it is already widely used. According to Citrix, 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ShareFile.

ShareFile is easy to use. If I send you an email that says I have sent you an encrypted message and has a green button labeled “view encrypted message,” all you have to do is click on that button, then type your name and email address in the box that pops up and click “continue.” A window will then open containing the email message.

Don’t worry about anyone using your name and email address for some other purpose. I have been assured that the only use that information is put to is to validate that the email address you enter is the same as the email address in the “to” line on the email that I sent. It’s a way to verify that my email wasn’t diverted to an unauthorized address, which apparently happens more often than I would have guessed.

If I send you an email with a file attached to it, the file will also be encrypted. The process for receiving the encrypted file is essentially the same as the process for an email.

The encrypted email message, and encrypted files attached to the email, are sent with what ShareFile describes as AES 256-bit encryption. That means the information is being sent with enhanced security.

ShareFile also makes it possible to send attached files without the typical restrictions on file size for email attachments. That’s less of a problem today than in the past, but there are still occasions when a file can’t be sent because it’s too large.

I will reconsider if I get negative feedback, but for now I think the benefits of encryption, and of this particular product, are worth the slight inconvenience. Of course I welcome your comments on your experience with ShareFile, and any concerns on the topic of secure communications generally.



You might be interested in this announcement from the IRS, made just in time for this year’s tax filing season:

The Internal Revenue Service announced [on April 6] a new payment option for individual taxpayers who need to pay their taxes with cash. In partnership with ACI Worldwide’s and the PayNearMe Company, individuals can now make a payment without the need of a bank account or credit card at over 7,000 7-Eleven stores nationwide.

‘We continue to look for new ways to provide services for our taxpayers…’ said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The obvious question is this: if you use that service, do you get a free Slurpee?


Estate planning report May


Nahan B. Hannah is a Shareholder in the Tucson office, and practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, and commercial transactions.  He is also a noted blogger, and you can find more of his articles on his private blog,

Contact Attorney Hannah:  or  520/ 322-5000

This communication is designed to bring legal developments of interest to the attention of our clients and others. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific legal advice in a particular matter. For further information on any of the subjects discussed, or for legal advice in connection with any particular matter, please contact us.