I’ve worked in several fields of law over the years and learned many legal terms which haven’t aged well. Jargon of this sort may sound funny to modern ears, especially when examined from a different perspective. As a life-long fan of science fiction, I always thought a “Holographic Will” sounded funny.
I grew up seeing holograms in Star Trek and Star Wars, so every time I hear someone mention holographic Wills, I can’t help thinking of the holograms depicted in science fiction. Think of how funny it’d be to arrive at court to prove up a holographically formatted Will. How might a probate judge react to such a Will?
- Would he or she be offended at the clever use of technology which makes fun of a dated term?
- Would the attorney or representative of the estate be chastised for contempt of court?
- Would such a Will be seriously evaluated based on its merits?
But, how could such a Will be legally recognized as valid? I’ve drafted and managed the execution of several estate planning documents, and understand what makes them legally valid. It may require a lot of effort, but it shouldn’t be that hard to make a real holographic Will.
Making a Holographic Will
A holographic Will is a Last Will and Testament which is handwritten and signed by the testator. Holographic Wills aren’t the best method to convey property upon death because they lack the verification and witnessing process enjoyed by most standard Wills. In Texas, the entire document must be written in the handwriting of the person making the Will (testator).
Based on the current requirements, you cannot have a valid holographically formatted, holographic Will. The reason is because the court must be able to verify the handwriting on the original document. If a hand-written document is converted into a digital format, the copy (hologram) isn’t legally enforceable.
However, you can draft a digitally holographic Last Will and Testament and execute it in a way that makes it valid. This is achievable using the technology we have today.
What You’ll Need
- Portable holographic projector
- Typed Will
- Notary with digital stamp credentials
- Two disinterested witnesses
- All parties need a digitally secure signature to sign the PDF.
- Buy a portable holographic projector. You’ll need it for a functioning holographic Will. Several are available on Amazon with an average starting price of $180. They appear to render images well and should be more than sufficient for this purpose.
- Get your Will drafted. Most people recommend having a probate attorney do this for you, but there are templates of simple Wills available online. A probate or estate planning attorney will be immensely helpful because of the unique nature of a holographically formatted Will.
- Find a Notary and schedule an appointment for the signing. The hard part is finding a Notary who has a completely digital notary stamp, and is willing to use it to notarize a Will. If you’re working with an attorney, they may already have a digital stamp or know someone who does.
- Corral two disinterested witnesses to participate in the signing. This won’t be difficult if you’re working with an attorney because most offices use their staff as disinterested witnesses.
- Make certain all signatories have a secure digital signature. This can be done using a recognized execution service like DocuSign.
- Assemble the parties and sign. The notary will verify your identity and those of your witnesses. Initial and Sign everything in front of the Notary and witnesses. There’s a section for the witnesses to enter their names and sign as well.
- The Notary notarizes the Will. The Notary will apply a digital stamp verifying you have satisfactorily executed the Will.
- Save or upload the executed Will. Once the Will is saved to your computer or SD card, plug it in and test it out. Be aware that you may need to convert the file formats to work on certain projectors.
A Few Things to Consider
This process can be done in person or via teleconference. However, there are more benefits to assembling all signatories in the same office.
- Having all parties physically present makes it easier for the Notary to verify everyone’s identity.
- Being in the same office reduces the chance of an error happening, and makes troubleshooting easier if one does occur.
- If all parties are in the same office, it can’t hurt to print a physical copy of the unexecuted Will and perform the execution process the conventional way. Doing so will ensure there is a standard version of the Will in case your family experiences complications during the probate process.
Other Types of “Holographic” Wills
While writing this article, I thought of a couple alternative methods to creating a “holographic” Will. I’m pretty sure the following types of Wills won’t be recognized as legally valid because they are technically uncertifiable copies, and/or the processes involved alter the document enough to ruin its legitimacy. I mention them because someone may think it’s a cool idea to replicate, and I’d like to see the idea given form.
There are a few methods to printing a “holographic” Will, but require a specialized printing company. The Will is copied onto special embossed “paper” or a sheet of glass to provide a 3D effect. The process may produce an optical illusion of floating text, and the company may be able to make the signatures and notary stamp appear more prominent.
If you want to go big, and I mean really big, you could have a 3D crystal engraving company turn your Will into a different type of “hologram”. This process is very expensive and requires a huge block of glass to legibly fit all pages of your Will (simple Wills average 10 pages).
If you have money to burn and know you aren’t going to alter or amend your estate plan, this type of Will can do double-duty as art. You can proudly display and brag that your final wishes are set in stone (actually, glass). And once you’re gone, it’ll serve as an everlasting monument to your legacy.
This type of Will may be perfect for a wealthy person who hates their family and/or wants to leave everything to a pet… or 20-year-old lover. Such a person can take great pleasure knowing the Will serves as a huge middle-finger to the family.
When all is said and done, a Will outlines your final wishes regarding your corporeal assets. If you’re a trickster at heart, you could pull one final joke on the system by creating a holographically formatted Will. It won’t be of any official use until you die, but when that day comes, you can rest easy knowing you’ve played one last prank on the system.
Where there’s a Will, there’s a way!
 Legal Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked in law for over a decade, but is not an attorney. The information or materials available in this blog or website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. The laws of one governmental jurisdiction (i.e. city, county, state, or territory) may not apply to a different jurisdiction.
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 Document Validation: Our courts are making great strides to modernize, but some jurisdictions may be slower than others at accepting new techniques. The processes posed in this article may not work in all courts now, but nothing can truly stop progress. It’s just a matter of time.
 Ingredients of a Will: Please remember that different states and counties may have different laws and requirements.
 Notarizing Wills: It’s hard to find a Notary who will notarize a Will. I’ve written my own Will, but can’t get anyone to notarize it. I’ve gone to banks and notary offices, and they’re all too scared to notarize it.
All they have to do is say the magic words, and watch me and the witnesses sign.
 Disinterested Witness: A disinterested witness is a person who does not benefit from your estate. In Texas, a witness must be over 14 years of age and of sound mind.
 DocuSign: Some legal entities or medical organizations shun eSignatures. They sometimes require a “wet” or hand-written signature. This practice doesn’t make sense when you have a legitimate 3rd party service, recognized for secure document execution.
If I can use DocuSign to execute multi-million-dollar contracts between major corporations, we should be able to use it to execute a multi-thousand-dollar estate.
 Holographic Printing: This section is intended to be an “honorable mention” of alternate methods of making a “holographic” Will. I have seen printed 3D or “holographic” images, but the science and technique is too complex to deeply explain beyond the basic theory of how it can be applied to make a Will “holographic”.
 3D “Crystal” Engraving: The block used in the 3D engraving process is usually made of glass or a special plastic.
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Bubblegram. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:History/Bubblegram