Holographic and Nuncupative Wills in Florida
Preparing a will is often a simple matter for the average person, especially if they do not have very many assets to convey. However, not everyone chooses to enlist an attorney to help them create their wills, even though they arguably should. Sometimes individuals will choose to either handwrite their wills or even dictate them, though dictating is almost exclusively done by people on their deathbeds – these are referred to as holographic and nuncupative wills, respectively. However, these are almost never accepted as valid in Florida. If you have a will in either form, this will almost certainly be a problem for you going forward.
State Law Requirements
For a will to be valid in Florida, it must have certain specific characteristics. The relevant statute requires that all wills be in writing and include both the testator’s signature (or the signature of someone on their behalf) and the signatures of two witnesses, who must sign at the same time as the testator. When the statute says that the will must be in writing, it does not technically exclude handwriting – but too often, holographic wills are executed without witnesses, which the law states specifically is invalid.
In addition, what many are unaware of is that any handwritten changes to a typed will also render it holographic. If a will requires changes, they must be changed either by an attorney or by adding a codicil to the document – if you simply cross something out and initial it, the court will likely probate the document without any of your handwritten additions. The rationale is that in theory, anyone could have made those changes, especially if you try to alter the document without witnesses present.
Oral Wills Are Invalid
Another type of will that is commonly made, especially among senior citizens, is referred to as a nuncupative, or oral will. These are most often seen as ‘deathbed’ wills, made when a person is cognitively aware of their lack of time remaining to make a will on paper. However, they are not valid in Florida under any circumstances – a will must be in writing and verified by two witnesses in order for it to be accepted for probate, and an oral will satisfies neither of these requirements. Someone who only has an oral will upon their passing will be treated as though they had died intestate (that is, as if they had no estate planning of any kind).
Be advised that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida regulations on wills and trusts have undergone some modifications that do allow certain choices previously seen as illegal. Even before the pandemic, Florida passed a law permitting remote online notarization (RON) of estate planning documents (as long as both parties are in the state of Florida), and more recently, electronic wills and witness signatures have also been ruled permissible. Still, the regulations must be followed, or the document will be ruled invalid and unacceptable for probate.
Call A Naples Estate Planning Attorney Today
Having one’s estate in order is something that helps a lot of people sleep better at night. However, it is crucial that you try to manage things in the way that the state of Florida requires, so that you can be assured that your documents will be accepted by the court and your heirs receive what you want them to receive. If you have questions or concerns regarding your own estate, calling a Naples estate planning attorney from Nici Law Firm may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at 239-449-6150, to schedule a consultation.