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What’s the Deal with Handwritten Wills?

A holographic will is a will that is entirely handwritten and signed by the testator, the person who created the will. Although holographic wills are less common, they still do exist and are something probate lawyers occasionally come in contact with. However, how valid are holographic wills when they are signed without the presence of witnesses? Florida Statute 732, Section 502, states that a testator’s signature, the presence of witnesses and the witnesses signatures must be included in a holographic will in order for it to be valid in Florida. However, different states have different laws in regards to holographic wills. For instance, in Colorado and North Dakota, unwitnessed holographic wills are valid if “the signature and material portions of the document are in the Testator’s handwriting (Hower, D. & Kahn, P., 2011. Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration).” However, Florida courts do NOT recognize holographic wills even if they are valid and legal in the state the will was executed. This means that these wills aren’t excluded from the probate process in the state of Florida. Because states view the validity of holographic wills differently, it is safer to avoid holographic wills altogether. The purpose of having a will in place is to avoid the probate process. It is recommended that a person have his/her will drafted by an attorney. Lauren Richardson is willing to offer her estate-planning expertise and answer any questions you might have about drafting a will.

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