A handwritten will – what does it contain, how can it be contested?

A handwritten will – what does it contain, how can it be contested?

Despite the increase in the number of Polish notary offices, handwritten wills, known professionally as holographic wills, are still in circulation, not least because of the ease with which they can be drawn up and, in many cases, their secrecy.

These wills must be entirely handwritten and signed by the testator. A date is also desirable and its absence affects validity only if it casts doubt on the testator’s ability to testify, the validity of the will, or the relationship between several wills.

Denial of the authenticity of a handwritten will places the burden of proof on the person raising it.

Raising objections to the validity of the will warrants an informational hearing, as well as an adjournment of the hearing and time to make detailed assertions and requests for evidence.

A will may be declared invalid if it is proven that:

– the person who made it acted in a state that prevented him or her from making a conscious decision and expressing his or her wishes (for example, if the testator suffered from a mental illness or was unable to direct his or her affairs because of advanced age);
– the person who made the document acted under the influence of a threat;
– the person who made the will was under the influence of a mistake that caused him or her to believe that if he or she had not been under the influence of the mistake, he or she would not have made the will.

A will will also be invalid if it is made jointly (a will made by two people jointly, for example, by married couples) or if it is defective, that is, if the formal requirements of the type of will involved are not met.

For example, the handwritten signature of a written will is missing, a typed signature is affixed instead of the handwritten signature.

A will is also invalid if the signature of the testator has been forged by another person, which must be proven by a graphological expertise during the trial.

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Inheritance in Poland