Preparing a proper last will is a vital aspect of ensuring your wishes will be carried out as you want upon death.
Accordingly, some individuals might ask themselves – are self-written wills legal in Florida? While there are no laws in place to invalidate self-written wills, there are specific legal requirements that a testator (the person writing a will) must meet to ensure the document’s validity.
In this article, you will discover whether self-written wills are legal in Florida.
Are Self-Written Wills Legal in Florida? – The Fundamentals
Under Florida law (Fla. Stat. §732.501), “any person who is of sound mind and who is either 18 or more years of age or an emancipated minor may make a will.” Therefore, it is possible to draft a valid self-written will within state jurisdiction.
Still, there is a set of other requirements imposed by law concerning the document’s validity. As provided by Florida Statutes §732.502, every will must be in writing and executed as follows:
- Upon drafting the will, the testator must sign at the end of the document
- If the testator cannot sign the will, another person under the testator’s direction must sign subscribe the testator’s name at the end of the document (always in the testator’s presence)
Florida Statutes §732.502 (1)(b) provide that “the testator’s signing, or acknowledgment that he or she has previously signed the will, or that another person has subscribed the testator’s name to it, must be in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses.”
Therefore, “the attesting witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.”
Considering wills executed under the laws of other states or countries, Florida law provides that “any will, other than a holographic or nuncupative (orally expressed) will, executed by a nonresident of Florida […], is valid as a will in this state if valid under the laws of the state or country where the will was executed.”
Common Mistakes Associated with Self Written Wills
Not Properly Executing the Will
At the end of the day, self-written wills are valid – as long as the document complies with all the legal requirements under state law. In this regard, many testators fail by not properly executing a self-written will.
Typically, a self-written will is prepared using a printed form found on the internet. However, many people fail when executing these forms by not adhering to the strict compliance requirements.
If a self-written will is not properly executed, the document will be considered valid in court, which will incur intestacy (death without a will). If the deceased person’s estate is considered intestate (no will), the court adjudicating the case will administer and execute the estate according to the Florida Intestacy Statute.
Are all Handwritten Wills Holographic Wills?
Florida law provides that a handwritten will that has been executed in compliance with Florida’s testamentary status will not be considered holographic will. As a result, they might be valid in some cases.