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Wills not recognized under Florida estate planning laws

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Whether you’ve been married for decades and have several grown children plus grandchildren or you’re on the younger side of 30 and single, you might want to sign a last will and testament. It’s a myth to think that this topic is only relevant to elderly or wealthy people. The estate planning process, and particularly the signing of a will, is beneficial to any Florida resident who has reached the age of majority (18) or has gone through emancipation as a minor.

It’s one thing, however, to decide to execute a last will and testament and quite another to know how to do so in accordance with Florida’s estate planning laws. If you create a will that does not align with such laws, a probate court judge will likely rule that it is invalid when the time comes to administer your estate. Therefore, it’s important to research state laws regarding wills, especially to learn what types of wills this state does not recognize.

Florida estate planning laws prohibit nuncupative wills

Nuncupative is a word that derives from the Latin word “nuncupare,” which means “to name.” In relation to estate planning, a nuncupative will is a last will and testament that a testator (person creating the will) issues verbally, rather than in writing. In the past, and in other states, people have often created nuncupative wills on the battlefield or in the last hours (or moments) of life after a car accident or other catastrophic event. It is essentially a verbal will.

If your goal is to execute a last will and testament in Florida, be aware that this state does not recognize nuncupative wills. Many people consider this an incentive to create a written will early on in life, in case something unexpected happens that places their life at risk. Without a valid will in place, your estate would become “intestate,” which means a probate court judge would determine how to distribute your assets, which may or may not align with what your personal preferences might have been.

A last will and testament cannot be holographic in this state

Another issue that creates invalidation of a last will and testament in Florida is a holographic will. This is confusing to some people because a holographic will is a written will, and state law demands that one submit a will in writing to be valid. However, a holographic will is a will written in a testator’s own handwriting, so you might wonder why Florida estate planning laws prohibit this type of will. The reason is that holographic wills, although they are written, are not signed by any witnesses.

In this state, a will is invalid if at least two credible witnesses do not sign it (in the presence of the testator). These witnesses must also witness each other signing the will. In short, a holographic will meets one requirement for validity (that one has written a will) but does not meet the requirement stating that two or more people must witness the testator signing the will and must sign the will themselves. To avoid confusion or legal obstacles down the line, it’s always best to seek experienced estate planning guidance before executing a will.