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Holographic Wills are Never Valid in Florida

February 1, 2021 in News

A holographic will is a will drafted and signed by a testator in his or her own handwriting.

There is a famous piece of folklore associated with holographic wills. In 1948, in Saskatchewan, Canada, an accident left a farmer pinned under his tractor. As he lay trapped and dying, the farmer used his pocketknife to scratch “In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris” into the fender of his tractor. Unfortunately, while he was eventually rescued, Mr. Harris succumbed to his injuries and perished the next day. The etched words he had left on the tractor were found by the courts to be a valid holographic will.

While holographic wills are recognized in some jurisdictions, Florida is not one of them. This is true even if a person executes a holographic will in one jurisdiction, where it is legal and valid, and then relocates to Florida, where the person dies, and the decedent’s heirs seek to have the will probated.

Section 732.502(2), Fla. Stat., provides that “Any will, other than a holographic or nuncupative will, executed by a nonresident of Florida, either before or after this law takes effect, is valid as a will in this state if valid under the laws of the state or country where the will was executed.” As noted in the statute, nuncupative or “oral” wills, are also not valid in Florida.

However, Florida law does allow for a handwritten will to be valid in Florida if it meets the requisite formalities, namely, that the will be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other.  However, estate planning completed without the assistance of an experienced attorney usually ends up costing the estate more in legal issues and litigation.

Do not leave your estate planning to the last minute. The experienced attorneys at the Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller can assist you with drafting a last will and testament and other estate planning documents and advise you regarding your estate planning needs. We are here to help. Contact us today at 407-422-3017.

By Christian Fahriq, Esquire


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