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Can you handwrite your own will?

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Two wills found in Aretha Franklin’s home have been ruled valid under Michigan law (US).

Months after Franklin's death in 2018, a handwritten will was discovered in a cabinet at her home in Detroit, and a second will was found hidden in between her sofa cushions.

The jury decided that not only were these handwritten documents valid, but that the ‘sofa will’ should override the ‘cabinet will’.

This is because the cabinet will was dated 2010, and the sofa will was dated 2014, so it was considered to be an ‘updated’ version of it.

Sadly, this decision has not come without its challenges. The confusion over the validity of these handwritten documents has led to an ongoing dispute in Franklin’s family- particularly over her multi-million dollar estate.

DIY wills

Under English law, it is permissible to write your own will. It is also not necessary for a solicitor to witness, or even assist with drafting a will.

However, getting a will made through a solicitor ensures that the document is valid, meaning that there is no risk of it being challenged.

If a will is successfully challenged, it will be considered invalid, meaning none (or only some) of the testator's wishes will be fulfilled.

At Kingswell Watts, we recommend that by working with an experienced solicitor, you can ensure that your wishes are documented in a legally binding document.

There is considerable formality in the attestation and execution of a will, which only a solicitor can ensure is achieved.

Call us today for a competitive quote for your will on 01924 461236 or email Jonathan Lloyd at

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