The Location of Holographic Wills

48 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2019

See all articles by Kevin Bennardo

Kevin Bennardo

University of North Carolina School of Law

Mark Glover

University of Wyoming College of Law

Date Written: September 13, 2019


North Carolina should abolish its location requirement for making a holographic will. Under the North Carolina holographic wills statute, a handwritten document must be found in an approved location after its author’s death in order to be regarded as a holographic will. No other state has mandated a location requirement for holographic wills since 1941.

The location requirement furthers neither of the core functions of will execution formalities: it makes probate courts’ decisions less efficient but no more accurate. And, because holographic wills in North Carolina are not technically executed until they are found postmortem, confounding doctrinal issues arise when testators attempt to revoke them before death. The location requirement of the holographic wills statute imposes costs without countervailing benefits.

Thus, the North Carolina General Assembly should abolish the location requirement from the holographic wills statute. In its place, the location in which a decedent stores a purported holographic will should be relegated to simply one contributing factor in assessing testamentary intent. Such a revision would reflect sound policy and bring North Carolina into accord with the rest of the country when it comes to the making of holographic wills.

Keywords: holographic wills, law of wills, inheritance law, North Carolina

Suggested Citation

Bennardo, Kevin and Glover, Mark, The Location of Holographic Wills (September 13, 2019). 97 North Carolina Law Review 1625 (2019), Available at SSRN:

Kevin Bennardo

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

Mark Glover (Contact Author)

University of Wyoming College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 3035
Laramie, WY 82071
United States

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