A holographic will is a will that is written and signed entirely in the testator’s own handwriting. Half of the United States and many European countries, including Germany, recognize holographic wills as valid. Some states also recognize foreign holographic wills. Despite challenges to the current status of Florida law, holographic wills remain invalid in Florida at this time.
Florida recognizes wills that have been properly executed in other states and countries, but Florida does not recognize holographic wills, even if valid in another state or country. In 1966, The Florida Supreme Court upheld the validity of the statutes denying the recognition of holographic wills in the case In re Estate of Olson, 181 So. 2d 642 (Fla. 1966).
Recently, in 2013, a new challenge to the constitutionality of the statute regarding holographic wills arose in the case Lee v. Estate of Payne, 2013 WL 5225200 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013). In the Lee case, a nonresident decedent died leaving a holographic will devising real property in Florida as well as proceeds from the sale of real property in Florida.
This latest challenge to Florida law is based on an earlier Florida Supreme Court decision in Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children v. Zrillic, 563 So. 2d 64 (Fla. 1990), where the court held that a different probate statute was unconstitutional because the statute deprived the testator and the legatees of the right to receive, enjoy, and dispose of property.
The result in the Lee case was that Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals found that the statutes dealing with holographic wills were not unconstitutional. However, the court also certified a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court as to whether denying the validity of holographic wills was, in fact, unconstitutional. In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court declined to exercise its jurisdiction to hear the Lee case. Accordingly, holographic wills remain invalid in Florida.
Due to the fact that holographic wills are not recognized in Florida, it is important to contact a legal professional when possible regarding the drafting of a legal will to be recognized in Florida.
We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary.
Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement.
Christian T. Fahrig