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Handwritten (holographic) Wills in Florida: are they valid?

Uncategorized Oct 3, 2013

Is a handwritten will which is valid in another state valid in Florida?   A recent case has asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on this.  Florida wills must be in writing and signed at the end of the will by the person making the will, in the presence of two witnesses who likewise sign the will.   The will must be typewritten, or, what others may now call, computer-generated. In other words, Florida courts do not recognize handwritten wills.  Handwritten wills are sometimes referred to as holographic wills.  Florida probate attorneys and Florida estate planning attorneys use computers to prepare wills and trusts.  Florida estate attorneys know that handwritten wills are not valid.  Florida probate attorneys don’t administer estates with handwritten wills.  But in a recent case, a handwritten will was admitted to probate in another state, because that state recognizes handwritten wills.  So, in that state, that handwritten will may be valid to pass or transfer the property in that state……but what about Florida real property? How is the Florida real property passed at death?  Does the Florida real property “go” according to the handwritten will which is valid in another state?  Or, since Florida does not recognize handwritten wills, does the Florida real property “descend” to heirs according to Florida’s intestacy statute?   Florida has very clear, un-ambiguous statutes for estates and wills.  Florida law for wills indeed recognizes wills which are valid in other states, but only if the wills are executed in compliance with FLORIDA’S law.  In other words, Florida won’t recognize handwritten wills even if they are made in another state which recognizes handwritten wills…..and even if that other state accepts that handwritten will and admits it to probate.  Does that violate the Florida Constitution, or the US Constitution, which requires us to give full faith and credit to orders and judgments from “sister” states?   Does that improperly violate the intent of the person making the will? Florida’s Supreme Court may weigh in.  Stay tuned. For a copy of the case opinion, please email michelle@pankauskilawfirm.com   Advocate hard. Litigate smart.