A will is a legal document that allows you to specify how you would like your possessions and property distributed to family, friends, and charitable organizations after you pass away. A will is the most comprehensive way to explain your last wishes to your loved ones. After passing, your will goes through the probate process to ensure its validity and properly distribute your assets. For a will to be valid in Florida, it must adhere to the requirements stated in Chapter 732.502 of the Florida Statutes. Here is how to ensure you create a legal will in Florida.
Be Legally Eligible
The first requirement for a will to be valid in Florida is to ensure the person creating the will (called the testator) is legally eligible to create one. You must be over 18 or an emancipated minor to make a will. You must be of “sound mind” and understand the full effect of the document you create. Your will should also be made freely and voluntarily, not under the threat of force or coercion.
Get it in Writing
Wills must be written, typed documents. Handwritten (also called holographic) or oral wills are not valid in Florida unless considered legal in another state. Wills can also be submitted and signed electronically. No official phrasing or terms need to be included in the document for it to be recognized as a will.
Properly Signed by the Testator
According to Florida statutes, the testator must sign a will at the end of the document to be valid. The testator can use any mark as a signature; it does not need to be their full name. However, the testator must acknowledge the mark as their signature. If the testator cannot write, they may appoint someone else to sign it on their behalf.
Have it Signed by Two Witnesses
Two witnesses need to sign the will for it to be valid. Witnesses can be anyone the testator desires, as long as they are mentally competent and understand what they are signing. It is recommended that the two witnesses are not named beneficiaries in the will, but this is not a requirement according to Florida law.
Modifying a Will
There are a few options if you previously created a valid will and want to make changes. One way is to create a new will and revoke the old one. When creating a new will, you should state that the new will revokes the older version. To avoid confusion, destroy any older versions and only keep the most recent document on hand. You can also modify a will by creating a codicil, or amendment, to the original document. Codicils work well when changing a small portion of the will without revoking the entire document. Like a will, codicils must be signed by two witnesses.
Contesting a Will
Someone can contest a will if they believe it was made under duress or undue influence, meaning you were pressured or persuaded to make the will. A will may also be contested if a potential beneficiary believes they were unfairly left out or removed from it.
Boutty Law Firm Creates Valid Florida Wills
One way to ensure your will is valid is to have an experienced estate planning attorney review it. It is wise to seek legal counsel to ensure the probate process is simple and efficient for your family members. Call our office today at 407-710-0461 to schedule an appointment.