Formally known by the term “last will and testament,” a will is a document in which someone determines the way his estate and assets should be distributed upon death.
Most importantly, a last will also determines other crucial aspects, such as who will be the guardian of minor children if one or both parents die in an accident, for example. After someone dies, the last will goes through a process called probate, which will administer the decedent’s estate.
In this article, you will discover all the requirements for a will to be considered legal and valid in Florida.
Requirements for a Legal Will in Florida – Who is Authorized to Draft a Last Will?
Anyone at least 18 years of age can prepare a last will in Florida, as long as the person has a sound mind and adequate rationality to reason the terms in the document. It is worth noting that, as provided by Florida law, emancipated minors can also draft a will.
Florida law requires that a legal will must be in writing. This way, it is possible for a handwritten will to be considered valid, as long as the document meets all the required formalities.
Ultimately, the validity of a will depends on the signature. Once the document is ready, the testator (the person writing the will) must sign it to make it valid. In case the testator has no physical or mental capacity to sign it, a trusted third party may sign the will on his/her behalf.
Nonetheless, the person signing the will on the testator’s behalf cannot serve as a witness to the will.
Requirements for a Legal Will in Florida – Witnesses’ Signature
Under Florida law, a legal will must have two witnesses to sign it. Also, the witnesses must sign the document in the presence of each other, as well as the testator. If a will does not meet these requirements, it cannot be deemed valid by a Florida probate court.
Requirements for a Legal Will in Florida – Personal Representative
In the last will, the testator will designate a trusted person to act as the executor of the will upon death. The executor, or personal representative, will act as the legal representative to administer the decedent’s estate during probate proceedings.
Among the functions of a personal presentative, this person has the right to bring legal claims on the decedent’s behalf and defend against third parties’ claims throughout probate. Florida law provides that the personal representative must be either a Florida resident or a testator’s close relative (if not a state resident).
Requirements for a Legal Will in Florida – Self-Proving Will
As provided by Florida Statute 732.503, it is possible to prepare a self-proving will. Upon the testator’s death, the heirs to the will must present evidence in court to prove the proper execution of the will.
In this context, it is possible to save time and money by drafting a self-proving will, which does not need further authentication before submitting to a Florida probate court. Florida law requires the testator and two witnesses to acknowledge the will with a notary to make it self-proving.
Still, while a self-proving will do not affect its validity, it guarantees the testator’s heirs an easier process to submit the will to probate.
What Are the Requirements for a Legal Will in Florida? – Work with An Expert Probate Lawyer from Jurado and Farshchian, P.L.
Any mistake to a will can drastically increase probate fees and generate unnecessary stress, so waste no time with uncertainty. Get in touch with Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.