Is A Holographic Will Legally Enforceable In Florida?
Alex’s mom Estelle told him he had nothing to worry about after she passed away, and that her estate planning to do list was checked off. When she passed away, Alex only found a piece of paper entitled “will”, written in Estelle’s own handwriting. It was unsigned and not witnessed. What Alex is describing is called a holographic will, and it happens more often than people realize. What should families know about holographic wills?
What is a Holographic Will?
A holographic will is a handwritten will written in the testator’s own handwriting. A testator is the person stating their last wishes and desires for the administration of their property and assets. Holographic wills are not enforceable in the State of Florida even if years old, or if they were written and signed in another state before the testator moved to Florida. Fla. Stat. §732. 502
In other cases, a person may have a last will and testament drawn up by an attorney earlier in life and decide they want to make changes years later. They might strike out lines or add information in their own handwriting, sometimes in the margins of the document. This is also not valid. Any changes made to a will need to be typed and incorporated into a new document. The new will needs to be re-signed (executed) and witnessed by two disinterested parties. A disinterested party is someone that shares no relation with you and has no named interest in your property or assets.
What Happens When You Make Handwritten Changes to a Will?
Simply handwriting new changes onto an original will makes it invalid. In addition, someone trying to challenge a will could argue that the handwritten changes do not match the testator’s handwriting. The best course of action is to contact an attorney when you need to make changes to your will or any other estate planning documents like a trust, otherwise you or your beneficiaries expose yourselves to unnecessary liability or litigation. When an interested party disputes the contents of a will, it could take months or even years to settle the claim and close the estate, all the while garnering fees. Prior planning and proper execution of legal documents can save you and your family a lot of frustration and heartache down the line.
Contact The Villages Estate Lawyers at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
Whether you need help with drafting a will or appealing a probate order, our team at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group is standing by to assist you. Proper estate planning can help your loved ones avoid probate administration altogether. We understand this area of the law can be complicated, but estate planning is crucial to give you peace of mind and security. We specialize in assisting our clients with all facets of estate planning and can help you too. With two locations to serve you in the Oxford and the Villages, it is time to get that estate planning to do list taken care of. Call today to schedule a consultation.