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Does Florida Recognize Holographic Wills?


Many people who consider creating a Last Will and Testament wonder if they can write a Will in their own handwriting.  It is often on someone’s “deathbed” which is why there are many issues surrounding the creation and execution of a holographic Will.

What is Considered a Holographic Will?

A holographic Will is a handwritten document with testamentary provisions signed by the Testator.  It is not witnessed or notarized.  Testamentary provisions often include the Testator’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and who shall serve as their “executor” or “personal representative.”

Are Holographic Wills Valid in Florida?

Generally, holographic Wills are not recognized under Florida law, even if the holographic will was executed validly by a nonresident of Florida.  For example, if a Testator validly creates a holographic will under another state’s laws then moves to Florida, Florida will not recognize that holographic will as a valid Will.  However, Florida law does recognize handwritten Wills if they do meet the execution requirements under Florida law.

Under Fla. Stat. § 732.502, you must create and sign a Will in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the Will in the presence of each other for it to be valid. However, if your handwritten Will is signed by two witnesses, it is no longer considered “holographic” by definition.

Can You Make Handwritten Changes to a Will?

Another common question asked by testators who have created a Will is, “Can I make handwritten changes to my Will?”  Many people add new information or cross out some content of their Last Will and Testament thinking it is valid. However, those handwritten changes are not valid under Florida law.

If you amend your Will with handwriting, the probate court will most likely disregard those handwritten changes. If you want to make valid changes to your Will, it must be amending by creating a codicil to your Will, or creating a whole new Will.

A codicil is a way to make minor changes to the Last Will and Testament by writing down what you want to add or remove from your existing Will. As long as the codicil is executed in accordance with Florida law, any amendments to a Will through a codicil will be recognized by the probate court.

What Happens if You Create a Holographic Will in Florida?

Some people create a holographic Will thinking that the Florida probate court will accept it upon their death.  However, since holographic Wills are not recognized by Florida law, the probate court will not consider the handwritten document unless it was properly executed.

But what would happen to your property if you created a holographic Will? The probate court would most likely disregard your invalid holographic Will, and your assets would be distributed according to Florida’s intestate succession law.

If you have a handwritten Will but are unsure if it is valid under Florida law, consult with an estate planning attorney. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our skilled estate planning lawyers can help you draft and execute a valid Will in the State of Florida. Schedule a case review by calling 727-471-5868.

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