A will is a document that a testator uses to record how he (or she) would like his estate to be distributed after he passes away. When written and executed according to the Florida Probate Act, and accepted by the circuit for probate, a will is a legally binding document. There are many different types of wills, but no all are all valid in Florida. In order for a will to be valid in Florida, it must be executed and written in a manner that is consistent with the Florida Probate Code. One type of will that is generally not valid in Florid is a holographic will. A holographic will is one that is handwritten and signed by the testator, but not witnessed as required. If you are concerned about the validity of s handwritten will that you executed or that was executed by a loved one, you should immediately contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale holographic will attorney, who can help you execute a will that meets Florida’s legal requirements.Requirements for a Valid Will in Florida
Under the Florida Probate Code, in order for a will to be legally enforceable, it must have been executed in the following manner:
- It must be signed by the testator
- At least two witnesses must have been present at the signing
- The witnesses must also sign the will
A holographic will is a will that is entirely handwritten by the testator. While holographic wills are signed by the testator, they are not witnessed. While in some states a holographic will made under specific circumstances will be probated, in Florida a holographic will is invalid even if it was valid in the jurisdiction in which it was executed. Note that if a will is handwritten, signed by the testator, and signed and properly witnessed by two people, then the will would be valid.Absence of a Valid Will
As a Fort Lauderdale holographic will lawyer will explain, if you pass away having left a holographic will, then the court will treat your estate as if you passed away intestate since the circuit court in Florida will not probate a holographic will. Your estate will be managed and distributed according to Florida’s rules of intestate succession. This means that if you have a surviving spouse, your surviving spouse will receive 100% of your estate. If you have children but no surviving spouse, your children will inherit 100% of your estate in equal shares. If you pass away with a surviving spouse and children, your spouse will inherit 50% of the estate, and your children will inherit the other 50% of your estate in equal shares. If you pass away without having a surviving spouse or children, then the state will look for other surviving blood relatives including siblings, parents, and grandparents. Specific relatives will be entitled to inherit your estate based on an order of priority as described in the Florida Probate Code.
As an experienced holographic will in Fort Lauderdale will explain, under the rules of intestate succession, your property will not go to people you choose as it would in a will. Instead it will go to your blood relatives. While in some cases the result will be the same. For example, if in your holographic will you wrote that your entire estate should be split between your spouse and your child, under intestate succession that would be the result. On the other hand, suppose in your holographic will you wrote that since you do not have a spouse or children, your entire estate is to be divided equally between 5 of your friends. Under intestate succession, none of your friends would inherit (assuming they are not blood relatives). Instead, your entire estate will go to your legal heirs, which, in the absence of a spouse or children, may include your siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Holographic wills that are not properly witnessed are not valid in Florida. If you have a handwritten, unwitnessed will, in order to ensure that your wishes will be followed after you pass away it is critical that you draft and execute a new will that is in compliance with Florida law. Contact an experienced holographic will attorney serving Fort Lauderdale at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We are here to help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.