Handwritten Wills – What’s The Problem?
By: Katie White, Esq.
With the increased availability of forms and information online, we’ve also seen a rise in the number of handwritten (versus typed) Wills. If a Will is clear and sets out what you want to happen when you pass, then what does it matter if it is typed or written in your own handwriting? Isn’t it even better that it’s in the deceased’s own hand? It’s all in the execution.
In Florida, a “holographic will” is not admissible in a probate court proceeding. “Holographic” means written entirely in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears. BUT, the law carves out an exception if the handwritten Will is properly signed by the testator and witnessed by two witnesses. A properly executed handwritten will is not considered “holographic” and is generally admissible.
The downside to writing your own Will, among other things, is that you may not know how to have it properly executed. We have seen several Wills that were fine as drafted but lacked the two witness signatures. We could not use them, and in these cases, they had significant consequences for the loved ones of the deceased. (Think cousins inheriting instead of a 30-year life partner type consequences). It also does not help if the unwitnessed Will was admitted in another state. Florida takes a very strict position on Wills: “No witnesses? No probate for you.” In those cases, the estate here proceeds as if no Will exists, and follows Florida’s default rules by statute.
Get Trusted Legal Guidance For Your Probate or Estate Planning Matter
It is always a good idea to get an attorney to help you prepare a Will. Florida has several quirky rules that could significantly impact the estate if not followed in the Will, and if you are taking the time to memorialize your wishes – don’t you want to make sure it “sticks”? We assist with probate once a loved one has died, and if you need a Florida estate planning attorney for help with your Will or Trust, one place to start your search is the Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, 1 (800) 342-8011. Contact our experienced Florida Probate and Estate attorneys for more information. Call our office or fill out our convenient online contact form below.