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Why write your holograph will by hand?

A will is a legal document A will is a document by which a person expresses his or her wishes concerning the disposition of his or her property after death. There are several forms of will, including the holographic willwhich is the most common in France.

A holograph will has the advantage of being simple, free and discreet. Simply write it out entirely by hand, date and sign it. It can be a useful tool for avoiding family disputes, which are unfortunately common in inheritance cases. Indeed, if the testator leaves no will, his heirs will have to divide his estate according to the legal rules, which may not correspond to his wishes. For example, if the testator has children from a previous union, they will be entitled to a minimum share of his estate, to the detriment of his current spouse or other people he may have wished to favor.

However, it must meet certain conditions of validity and conservation to be recognized by law. It is therefore essential to know why and how to draw up a holograph will by hand.

What is a holograph will?

Definition and characteristics

Holograph wills are governed by article 970 of the French Civil Codewhich states that "a holographic will shall not be valid unless it is written in full, dated and signed by the testator: it is not subject to any other form".

Holographic wills must :

✍️ Handwritten in full by the testatorwithout the use of a computer, typewriter or dictaphone. Typed parts are considered invalid.

📅 Be precisely datedindicating the day, month and year. The date must correspond to the day the will was drawn up, not the day it was modified or signed.

📝 Signed by the testatorwith his usual signature. The signature must appear at the end of the text, no blanks or erasures.

Advantages and disadvantages

Holograph wills have a number of advantages and disadvantages over other forms of will.

Here is a summary table: 



Simplicity all you need is pen and paper to draw up a will

Free no need for a notary and no drafting costs

Discretion It does not have to be deposited with a notary or with the central file of last will and testament dispositions (fichier central des dispositions de dernières volontés).FCDDV). 

Fragility it can be lost, destroyed, falsified or contested

Formalism : it must comply with strict validity conditions

Risk it may not be found or respected after the testator's death

Conditions of validity of a holograph will

Risks of nullity or challenge

Holograph wills also have their drawbacks and advantages. risks compared to other forms of will by its fragility (it can be lost, destroyed, falsified or contested after the testator's death) and its formalization, as it must comply with certain strict validity conditionsIf not, it may be annulled by the courts. Lastly, it presents a risk if it is not found or respected after the testator's death, or if the testator has not deposited it with a notary or the FCDDV. 

Tips for drawing up a clear, precise holograph will

To help you draw up a clear and precise holograph will, we invite you to read our article Legapass which explains in detail the steps to follow. You'll also find a free model holograph will. 

Don't wait any longer, click here to access our article on the complete editorial guide a holograph will.

Download our free template to help you draw up your holograph will!

Preservation and transmission of a holograph will

How to keep a holograph will

The testator may choose to keep his holograph will himselfof entrust it to a third party or drop it off at a notary's office or at the FCDDV.

Here are the characteristics of each modality:

Personal preservation

The testator keeps his will at home or in a safe place (safe-deposit box, bank, etc.). He/she must inform relatives or executor the existence and location of the will. This method is simple and free of charge, but there are risks of loss, destruction, falsification or non-retrieval of the will after death.


Handing over to a third party

The testator entrusts his will to a trustworthy person (friend, relative, lawyer, etc.). The testator must ensure that this person accepts the mission and is able to return the will after death. This method is also simple and free of charge, but it involves the same risks as personal safekeeping, as well as the risk that the third party may predecease the testator or fail to respect his or her wishes.

Deposit with a notary or the FCDDV

The testator delivers his will to a notary who registers it with the Fichier central des dispositions de dernières volontés (FCDDV), which lists all wills drawn up in France. The notary keeps the will in his office and returns it to the heirs after the death. There is a charge for this service (approx. 30 euros), but it does offer a high level of security. maximum security for storage and transmission of the will.

The advantages of filing your will with a notary or with the FCDDV

Filing a holograph will with a notary or with the FCDDV has several advantages for the testator and his heirs:

👉 It guarantees keeping wills in optimum conditionIt's the ideal solution for all your document needs, avoiding the risks of loss, destruction, falsification or non-retrieval.

👉 It ensures the transmission of the will to heirs after death, facilitating inheritance procedures and avoiding potential disputes.

👉 It allows the testator to benefit from the notary's advice on drawing up a willto comply with inheritance law and optimize the transfer of your estate.

👉 It enables heirs to benefit from the notary's assistance in opening and settling the estate, in order to respect the deceased's wishes and carry out the necessary formalities.

Steps to take if a will is modified or cancelled

The testator may change or cancel your holograph will at any time, according to his wishes. He must then take the following steps:

  • If he keeps his will himself, or has given it to a third party, he must destroy the old will (by burning or tearing it up, for example) and draw up a new one, respecting the conditions of validity. They must also inform their next of kin or executor of the change.
  • If he has deposited his will with a notary or with the FCDDV, he must ask the notary to return the old will and give him the new one, asking him to register the change with the FCDDV. They must also inform their next of kin or executor of the change.

Holograph wills, entirely handwrittenremains an attractive option for those who wish to express their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after their death. Its simplicityhis zero costand its confidentiality make it a popular choice. However, for it to be legally valid, it must meet strict conditions, such as being handwritten, precisely dated and signed by the testator.

It is essential to note that a holograph will is not immune to risks, not least its fragility, since it can be lost, destroyed, falsified or contested. In addition, its validity is conditional on scrupulous compliance with legal rules.

To minimize these risks and ensure the smooth execution of his will, the testator must take appropriate measures for the safekeeping and transmission of his will. The safest option is to deposit it with a notary, who ensures rigorous management and security of the document..

Ultimately, writing your holographic will by hand can be a wise move, provided you understand the advantages and constraints. The choice of storage method will depend on the level of security desired, but it is wise to take into account the potential risks and make adequate arrangements to ensure that your last wishes are respected and carried out in accordance with your wishes.

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The value of your digital assets is inestimable. 💎
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