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Does Florida recognize a holographic will?

Classic cinema is big in Charlotte County, Florida, and many residents are familiar with the Hollywood version of the reading of a will. In the movies it always appears that the evil heir of a beloved family member is just about to inherit all of the deceased's estate through trickery and forgery. Suddenly, the hero bursts into the family room and holds aloft the real handwritten will of the deceased, foiling the villain's plan and restoring the family's honor. But real life doesn't follow movie stereotypes and the validity of a handwritten will is not universally recognized by all state courts.

A handwritten will, also known as a holographic will, is one that has not been drawn up on a neatly professional and published document from an attorney or a law firm. Rather, it is a handwritten document written by the testator. It is then signed at the end of the document by the testator without the benefit of two witnesses.

This lack of witnesses is crucial to the validity of the document. While some states do accept this type of document as a legally binding will, other states, including Florida, do not. In Florida a will must adhere to additional specific guidelines before it can be legally accepted.

However, this does not mean that Florida will not accept a handwritten will. According to state statues, a properly executed will that is in the testator's handwriting is not thought of as a holographic will. In order to be properly executed, the testator must sign the will at the end of the document and his or her name must be written in the will by another person in the presence of and at the request of the testator. The handwritten document must also be signed by two witnesses in the presence of each other and the testator as well.

Source: www.leg.state.fl.us, "The 2014 Florida statutes," April 28, 2015

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