A holographic will is a will that has been entirely written and signed in the handwriting of the testator, who is the person who makes the will. While some states consider holographic wills to be valid, Florida does not unless the will meets certain requirements.
Under Florida law, a holographic will is valid if it meets three specific requirements. First, the will must be signed by the testator. Usually, this requirement is met when the testator signs the will at the end of the document. In cases where the testator is unable to sign the will himself, another person can sign his name for him as long as the testator directed that person to do is and is present when the signing occurs.
Second, two witnesses must be able to attest to the testator’s signing of the will. The witnesses must be physically present when either the testator signs the will, when someone signs the will for the testator as stated above, or when the testator acknowledges that he previously signed the will. The witnesses can be any person over the age of 18, as long as they are competent. It does not matter if the witnesses are named as heirs in the will.
Finally, the will must be signed by the witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other. Although a will does not have to be notarized, it is helpful if the witnesses sign a self-proving affidavit in front of a notary. This affidavit relieves the witnesses from having to testify in probate court about the validity of the will.
It is helpful to understand the reasoning behind the three requirements. One reason is that holographic wills can very easily be challenged in court. Holographic wills often do not have any witnesses. As a result, it can be very difficult to prove that the entire will is in fact in the testator’s handwriting and that it was intended to be the testator’s will. The requirements mentioned above are designed to eliminate doubt that the will represents the testator’s wishes.
If you have questions about whether a will is valid, speak with an experienced wills and trusts attorney.