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.

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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.

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Are Out-of-State Wills Considered in Florida Probate?


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California Law on Wills

By establishing a will, you can avoid administration of your estate under California intestate succession laws. However, merely writing a will is not sufficient for the state to recognize your wishes -- your will must comply with the guidelines defined by the California Probate Code for the state to acknowledge its validity. While a will that overlooks only one requirement may still uphold in court, you risk the court putting aside your entire will if you fail to comply with these guidelines.

How to Contest a Will in Missouri

Your will leaves instructions for your loved ones regarding how you want your property distributed, and your loved ones might willingly follow your instructions to the letter. Sometimes, however, family and friends may dispute, or contest, terms of your will. Missouri allows certain persons to contest a will even if it appears valid, but you can take steps to discourage will contests.

How to Write a Florida Living Will

When you are no longer capable of making your health care decisions, your physicians can rely on documents you create now to guide your treatment. Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes addresses these documents, called advance directives. Sections 765.303 and 765.304 give a suggested form for your living will and instructions on how to enact it.

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