Handwriting on a piece of paper
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It is important to think about putting a will in place, especially when you get married or have children, or some other significant event takes place in your life that would make designations and protection of your assets necessary.  Sometimes you might not want to go through the process and expense of hiring an estate planning attorney to draw up a will for you, but instead want to write down your intent on a piece of paper.  The issue becomes whether a handwritten piece of paper is sufficient and would stand up to scrutiny if questioned after you pass away. 

What Makes A Handwritten Will Valid In Florida?

A handwritten will is also known as a “holographic will” and can be considered valid under certain circumstances. However, it is subject to stricter scrutiny than a will formally drafted with legal assistance. The elements that would make a handwritten will valid in Florida include the following:

  • Witnesses: For a will to be considered valid in Florida, it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will in the presence of the testator (the person making the will) and each other. This requirement applies regardless of whether the will is handwritten or typed.
  • Handwritten vs. Typewritten Wills: Unlike some states that may allow holographic wills without witnesses if the material provisions and the signature are in the testator’s handwriting, Florida does not have such an exception. A handwritten will without the presence and signatures of two witnesses is not likely to be considered valid in Florida.
  • Clear Intent: The will must clearly demonstrate the testator’s intent regarding the distribution of their estate. The more precise the instructions and identifications of beneficiaries, the less room there is for dispute.
  • Legal Requirements: Beyond the basic requirement of being witnessed, a will must meet other legal standards to be valid. For instance, the testator must be of sound mind and not under undue influence when drafting and signing the will.
  • Self-Proving Affidavit: Though not mandatory, attaching a self-proving affidavit to the will is a good practice. This affidavit is signed by the testator and witnesses and notarized to confirm that the will was voluntarily signed by the testator in the presence of the witnesses. A self-proving affidavit can expedite the probate process because it alleviates the need for witnesses to testify about the will’s validity during probate.
  • Probate and Litigation Risks: Handwritten wills, especially if not adequately witnessed or ambiguous, are more prone to being contested in court. Disputes can arise over the interpretation of the testator’s intentions or the authenticity of the handwriting. Such challenges can lead to lengthy and costly probate litigation.
  • Consultation with an Attorney: Given the complexities and specific requirements for a valid will in Florida, it is advisable to consult with an attorney when drafting a will. An attorney can help ensure that the will meets all legal requirements, clearly expresses the testator’s wishes, and minimizes the risk of disputes.


While it is technically possible for a handwritten will to be considered valid in Florida, it must meet the same legal standards described above as a typewritten will. Given the potential challenges and risks associated with handwritten wills, seeking professional legal advice is highly recommended to ensure the will’s validity and accurately reflect the testator’s intentions. Verras Law can help you with your estate planning needs to ensure that you set forth your exact wishes and that your intent will be carried out for you. Contact our office for an initial consultation.