CAN I MAKE A WILL AT HOME IN KENTUCKY?
Yes, but I still strongly recommend you do not do it.
Not surprisingly in this age of social distancing, I have been asked if you can prepare a valid will without leaving your home and without any witnesses. In Kentucky you can legally draft your own will without leaving the comfort of your home and without having witnesses be present to watch you sign it.
Kentucky recognizes holographic wills. KRS 394.040. These are wills prepared entirely in the testator’s handwriting. (The testator is a person who makes a valid will.) The entire document should be completely in the testator’s handwriting. No part of it should be typed. Other states have different laws regarding wills, and holographic wills might not be recognized in other states
There are still many problems with holographic wills. They are generally prepared by people that do not know how to prepare wills and cause significant problems when they are later admitted into probate court. Even holographic wills must still meet certain requirements about their contents and where they are signed.
Also, a holographic will still has to be proven in court to be valid. This means that evidence must submitted to court that the testator prepared it. For a holographic will this could be done by the testimony of two witnesses that can recognize the testator’s handwriting. If two such witnesses cannot be located some other type of evidence, such as a handwriting expert’s opinion, must be used to prove the will in court. This can be time consuming and greatly increase legal fees. Most wills prepared by a competent attorney will be self-proving, meaning they do not need witnesses in court to be proven. Self-proving wills prevent delays and reduce costs for the estate.
If you want to prepare a type-written will at home, you can still do that without an attorney. But a type-written will must have the signature of two witnesses and signed by the testator in the proper place. Using only a Notary Public to witness it does not make it valid. The two witnesses should not be minors, have no interest in the will, and need know where to sign it.
As an attorney, I have always enjoyed reading wills prepared by a lay person. Even wills created through special software or online services can cause problems. Such wills can create issues in probate that require the will to be interpreted, delay administration, increase legal costs and can contain unrealistic provisions that cannot be followed. Even wills I have seen that were copies of valid wills still had problems when they were admitted into probate, because the testator copied provisions that did not did not apply or they were not executed properly.
What is the best solution? If you need will and don’t want to leave home call an attorney and have them draft a will you can copy in your own handwriting. The attorney can walk you through the process of executing it properly. When everything calms down you can schedule an appointment with that attorney to execute a self-proved will. So, while you can prepare your will without leaving your house, I do not recommend it. Even a well written will has to be properly executed to be valid, and most people who are not attorneys do not understand the necessary requirements to make the will valid. Just call an attorney to help you do it properly.