Is a Handwritten Last Will & Testament Legal in Florida?

by Anna Assad

    A will is a document that has your last wishes and directions for distribution of your property to your loved ones after your death. A handwritten will is valid in Florida if all of the requirements dictated by state law are met. If your will is handwritten and does not meet Florida standards, the document is not eligible for probate, which is the legal proceedings use to settle the estate of a person who left a will.

    Meets Execution Standards

    You must be at least 18 years old and mentally sound when preparing and signing a will in Florida; however, a minor who is emancipated -- legally responsible for himself by court order -- can make a will. You must sign the will or ask another person to sign for you in your presence. No persons can pressure you into making your will or influence you about any of its provisions; the act is commonly referred to as undue influence. Your will or a part of its directions may be found invalid by the Florida probate court if you were unduly influenced.

    Properly Witnessed

    At least two people must sign your will as witnesses in your presence and in the presence of each other. Florida law does not prohibit persons who benefit the will from witnessing the document or restrict the share of an interested witness, but using such a witness may open up your will to a court challenge by your other heirs. The witnesses must be mentally competent at the time of the will's signing.

    Names Beneficiaries

    No specific wording is required in a Florida will, but the document must provide for the disposal of your assets and property. If the handwriting on your will is not legible, the probate court decides the meaning of your words. A typed version of the will is prepared by the probate court for clarity purposes and placed into the estate file.

    Foreign Will Standards

    A handwritten foreign will -- a will made by a person who was not a Florida resident at the time -- is only valid if the document meets Florida will execution and witness requirements. A typed will is valid even if the will does not meet Florida standards as long as the document meets the standards set forth in the laws where the will was executed.

    About the Author

    Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.