Monday, January 21, 2013

Holographic Wills are Causing a Headache in the Kinkade Estate

Forbes is reporting on the strange case of the Thomas Kinkade estate.

The ubiquitous artist died in April 2012, leaving behind an estranged wife, girlfriend, and according to the girlfriend, two handwritten (called "holographic") wills. The wills leave extensive gifts to the girlfriend. In California, where the probate has been commenced, the requirement for witnesses is waived if the entire will is handwritten by the testator. In this case, witnesses would have been really handy to let the court know whether Mr. Kinkade had the capacity to execute these wills. A handwriting expert, hired by The Mercury News expressed the opinion that the writer was likely "three sheets to the wind", which casts great doubt whether he had the capacity to execute these documents.

Minnesota, unlike California, does not allow for holographic wills. If Minnesota law governs the execution, it must be witnessed by two people. If you have wishes you want respected at your death, meet with a licensed attorney to ensure it meets the requirements your state has on a will... and don't be three sheet to the wind when you sign it.


  1. I practice probate law in Nevada which like California allows holographic wills. I've probate a few short holographic wills (giving everything to one or two people) without problems. Problems more typically arise when a testator tries to make handwritten amendments to a typed will. If the handwritten amendments are signed and dated they fail as a holographic amendment.

  2. That's interesting! Because MN doesn't allow for an exception to the witness requirement for holographic wills or amendments, handwritten amendments usually fail for lack of witnessing. Even if witnesses were present, the confusion of documenting it make a formal codicil or new will far preferable.