Baldwin v. Estate Of Winters, 2006 WL 3299834 (Fla. 4th DCA Nov 15, 2006)

So what is it, cash or tangible property?  The linked-to case demonstrates this seemingly basic/esoteric question can have a real-life impact on who gets what from an estate.  The contested writing was described as follows by the 4th DCA:

On May 22, 1999, two copies of a typewritten letter were prepared on the testator’s personal stationery. They directed the same personal representative “to give to Allan Baldwin a new car of his choice from [her] estate.” Each copy was signed by the testator, witnessed, and notarized.

If this document devised tangible property, then F.S. 732.515 governs, if it devises a monetary amount, then the general rules governing codicils under F.S. 732.502 governs.  The probate court ruled it was a devise of a monetary amount, NOT tangible property, thereby rejecting Mr. Baldwin’s argument for application of the less demanding rules applicable to devises of tangible property under F.S. 732.515.

Here’s how the 4th DCA summarized its ruling:

[W]e agree with the probate court’s initial ruling that the separate writing was not a proper devise of tangible property, pursuant to section 732.515. Because the devise was of a monetary amount, it could not be effectuated through a separate writing under the 1997 version of section 732.515.