Since 1895, and likely long before that, holographc wills have been valid in Nevada. An holographic will is a will written on a completely blank piece of paper in the testator’s own handwritng, and dated and signed by the testator. (“Testator” or “Testatrix”, depending on his or her sex is the person making a will). In those wild west days there was no easy access to attorneys or notaries. Not all that different from our Coronavirus now. Finding a notary today is difficult and, though some say attorneys are a dime a dozen, going to an attorney’s office can put the testator at risk for Covid-19.
So holographic wills are now back in style. We probated one recently which simply said: “I leave all my worldly possessions to Suzie.” It wasn’t great. It didn’t name an executor or executrix. It didn’t contain any testamentary trusts for minors. It contained no creditor-protection language. But it worked. It was written on a blank piece of paper and dated and signed. Though it was not witnessed, witnesses are only helpful to a holographic will; they are not required.
Holographic wills are discussed in several Nevada Supreme Court cases. A good example is State v. Palm (In re Estate of Melton), 128 Nev. 34, 272 P.3d 668 (2012). The statute is NRS Chapter 133.
In the 2008-2009 Bush recession, condos in Reno could be picked up for $15,000. Now those same condos are valued closer to $150,000. But the coming COVID-19 recession is much different. The Bush recession was due to over-leveraged banks. The COVID-19 recession is caused by government decree. We are not now being asked to suffer for the good of the banks, though not unsurprisingly banks with their hands out are being bailed out whether they need it or not. We are now being asked to suffer for the good of our fellow Nevadans. How this will play out in the housing market is anyone’s guess. Its pretty clear that to qualify for a mortgage the buyer has to have some source of income. Dee Goodman, the Reno barbar lady who was fined $1000 for cutting a customer’s hair, is a pretty good example. She will have to make enough to pay the fines and still have enough to eat on. Doubtful. This COVID-19 stuff is clearly reducing the pool of potential buyers. We could be in for a rough ride.
If you would prefer to meet electronically, that is fine with us. We regularly use Zoom for electronic (video or telephonic) meetings. All but the signing can normally be done electronically. Wills need two witnesses, so once the will is finished, and final editing is complete, we offer the client the opportunity to sign the will without getting out of their car. We simply have the witnesses stand 6 feet away and watch the signing. Our Wills are not notarized but we have the witness’ signatures notarized. We have 3 in-house notaries, so normally this process goes very smoothly.