By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney, I often get questions about wills and how they work in handling a person’s estate. One of the questions I frequently get is whether a person can create their own last will and testament and whether if they do this it will be valid.

To be clear, Idaho does accept holographic wills. A holographic will is a written will that is created by the individual who is signing it. To be holographic, the signature and material provisions of the will must be in the handwriting of the person signing it.

The problem with holographic wills is that they are usually a mess that often create more problems than they solve. For example, well-known interviewer Larry King created his own handwritten will where he proposed to split his $2 million estate equally among his five children. The problem is, he was not divorced from his wife when he wrote his will.

The timing of the situation is actually quite unique and interesting to discuss. The handwritten will was dated October 17th 2019, which was two months after he filed for divorce from his seventh wife. However, King died before the divorce was completed which means that he was still married to his wife upon the date of his death. Additionally, the handwritten will left his entire estate to his five children equally. However, about a year after creating his handwritten will, two of King’s children died and King never updated his handwritten will.

On top of all this, apparently his handwritten will failed to nominate anyone to act as his personal representative. In most states, if a nomination has not been made as to who will be the personal representative, then the statutes of the state usually determine who has the highest priority to seek that appointment. The person who is usually first in line is a surviving spouse. However, in King’s case, because he had filed for divorce, his son Larry King Jr., is requesting to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate rather than King’s wife who has the highest priority and right to be appointed. The reason this is a problem is because King’s un-divorced wife is also seeking to challenge the terms of the handwritten will so that she receives King’s estate rather than having it go to his children.

When King chose to do a handwritten will rather than go to a qualified estate planning attorney to get his estate done is a mystery to everyone. In most instances people want to do their own handwritten will so they can save money by not having to pay a lawyer. However, as is the case with King’s situation, most people who do this end up paying lawyers far more money to clean up the messes that are created than they would have paid if they had gone to a lawyer in the first place and had their estate planning done correctly.

If you have questions about your own estate planning, we can help. To help our clients get started, we provide a free Estate Planning Questionnaire, that we can either email to you or you can download from our web site. This is a PDF document that you can type directly into and save to your computer.

Once the Questionnaire is filled out, you can email it back to us.  Then we schedule a free 30-minute consultation to review your information and discuss the things that are important to you when it comes to your own estate plan. Once we know what it is that you want to accomplish, we provide you with the options you have available and we explain those options to you. This includes the flat fee prices we charge for each of the options you can choose from.

Our clients tell us this process removed any fear or intimidation they were feeling about how to get their estate planning done. Our goal is to make getting your estate planning easy. More importantly, our goal is to help you and your family avoid any costly mistakes I could result in family fights at-large litigation fees. We have helped numerous clients in the creation of their estate plans and we are confident we can help you too!


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lane@racineolson.com. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello estate planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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