Law Offices of Frye & Vazquez, P.L. - estate planning
Se Habla Español

Coronavirus Update: We have been leveraging technology to serve our clients for years.  We are equipped to address your estate and healthcare designation planning with proper precautions in our office or remotely through telephone and video conferencing. Social distancing does not have to stop you from attending to your planning needs. Please call us at 305-508-5749 for further details.


Contact Us
305-508-5749

Blog

When are handwritten wills legal in Florida?

You’ve probably heard of someone leaving a handwritten will behind — or maybe you even have a handwritten will tucked away in your own desk drawer. It seems like the easiest way to establish what you’d like to see happen with your assets and personal effects after you are gone. After all, how can a will be considered invalid when it’s clearly in your handwriting?

Here’s the problem: Florida does not recognize most handwritten wills. Also known as “holographic” wills, they don’t hold any legal weight unless they meet the narrow exception in the law. To do that, a handwritten will must be:

  • Signed by the testator or signed with the testator’s name by another person while in the testator’s presence and at their direction (to account for situations where the testator is physically unable to sign for some reason)
  • Signed by at least two witnesses who were in the testator’s presence and in each other’s presence at the time that the will was signed

This can cause problems if you have a will that was properly executed and otherwise valid but make handwritten changes to its terms instead of having a codicil drawn up with the changes.

In general, relying on a handwritten will or a will that you downloaded from the internet is a bad gamble. If the terms are confusing or the court declares your will to be invalid, your assets will all be distributed as if you had died “intestate,” without expressing your wishes in a will. That’s one of the biggest reasons it’s always wise to work with an estate planning attorney when you draft your end-of-life documents.

badges

Archives

FindLaw Network