What is a Holographic Will?
A holographic will is a will that has been written by hand by the person that is establishing the will, legally known as a testator. A holographic will is different from a standard will because it is typically neither notarized nor signed by two witnesses and handwritten.
Not all states allow or recognize holographic wills, even in the states where holographic wills are recognized, they have to conform with certain standards. For example, the holographic will has to be handwritten by the testator themselves, while the testator has the necessary mental capacity, and signed by the testator at the end of the will. Signing at the end is a crucial step for any will to be legally recognized, as disputes often arise over the identity of the signatory. In such cases, people familiar with the testator’s handwriting as well as handwriting experts are often invited to testify in probate courts regarding the validity of the signature and the handwriting itself.
Only a handful of states recognize holographic wills. While some states do not accept holographic wills, they accept holographic wills made in other states, where they are legal – under foreign wills provisions. Additionally, in New York, for example, holographic wills are recognized only if they are made by members of the Armed Services.
Is a Holographic Will Valid in Florida?
A holographic will that is not notarized or made in front of two witnesses is not recognized in Florida. However, if a will is handwritten but is signed by two present witnesses – it is considered a valid will. See Fla. Stat. § 732.503. A will must always be signed by the testator, at the end of the documents, in the presence of two attesting witnesses, to be valid in Florida.
The Supreme Court of Florida has stated in Allen v. Dalk that: “an unsigned will is no will; a will with the testator’s signature omitted does not comply substantially with the Wills Act.” Allen v. Dalk, 826 So.2d 245, 250 (2002).
How do I Write a Holographic Will?
Any will, including a holographic will, should be written by someone over eighteen (18) years of age, while being of “sound mind and judgement” and having the purpose of making the will the “their last will and testament.”
We caution against creating your own holographic will in Florida. The Florida Wills Statute is comprehensive and requires many factors for a will to be considered valid. We suggest speaking to an attorney before creating a will on your own.