I’m Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Winter Haven, Florida. We handle a broad range of probate litigation issues regarding wills, estates, beneficiaries, and relatives.
Today, I am going to explain some basic information about wills and answer three common questions about Florida wills and probate litigation that come up in conversations with clients.
What is a Holographic Will?
The first question is what is a holographic will? Holographic wills are handwritten and signed only by the testator, without the signatures of witnesses. Holographic wills are not recognized in Florida – meaning they will not be accepted by a Florida probate court.
However, a handwritten will that is properly signed and witnessed by 2 competent people can be validated as a proper will and is not considered holographic.
Florida law specifically excludes two types of wills:
- Holographic Wills and Oral Wills.
- An Oral will, or Nuncupative Will, is one made verbally in the presence of witnesses, often by terminally ill individuals when a written will is not possible. Florida does not recognize Oral Wills.
Is an Electronic Will Legal in Florida?
The next issue that I’ll talk about today is whether an electronic will is legal in Florida?
In 2017, the Florida legislature passed the Florida Electronic Wills Act which allowed a last will and testament to exist as an electronic record.
Pursuant to the Act:
–Testators signed electronically, but in the presence of at least two witnesses;
–Witnesses were required to see the testator sign the will by video and then sign electronically themselves.
The Act also set requirements regarding video and audio quality, the preparation of a transcript of the will signing, and the proper storage of the electronic will.
It also required the notary seal on a self-proving will to be included with the notary signature.
However, Governor Scott vetoed the Florida Electronic Wills Act, citing concerns about authenticating identities and storing the will.
Scott expressed the importance of finding “the right balance between providing safeguards to protect the will-making process from exploitation and fraud while also incorporating technological options that make wills financially accessible.”
What is the Spousal Elective Share?
The final question I’ll address today is what is the spousal elective share?
Elective share law provides a statutory amount of assets that a spouse is entitled to receive when the other spouse dies.
Florida elective share law is intended to protect a surviving spouse who has been disinherited or left only a small portion of the estate. The theory is that much of the property of a married decedent will be marital in nature, regardless of how title is held. The protection provided to the surviving spouse is similar to that afforded by property division in a divorce.
Under Florida law, you cannot intentionally disinherit your spouse unless your spouse agrees to receive a lesser amount from your estate in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement.
These questions I’ve addressed come up frequently with my clients and I wanted to answer them to clarify them for you.
Again, I’m Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. If you have questions about wills, estates, or probate litigation, give me a call. Let’s talk about how Bloodworth Law can help you or your family.