What makes a will legal in Florida?

In Florida and most other states, anyone who is at least 18 years old and owns property can under law have a will. Many people might falsely believe that a will needs to be complicated to be legal. That’s not the case. There are things you should know, according to Florida statute, before you draft or change your will. This is especially true if you have a will, but are a new resident of Florida.

Under Florida statute 732.502, Every will must be in writing. It also must include:

  • The signature of the person, also knows as the testator, who created it. The signature needs to be at the end, or it must be subscribed at the end by another person in the testator’s presence.
  • At least two witnesses who can attest to the signature.
  • The attesting witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.

If you believe your estate is simple, with few assets or instructions to lay out, a handwritten will is an option. It must be completely in your own handwriting, signed and dated. It must also be legible and be clear in its instructions: State who you are leaving your belongings to and so forth. It doesn’t have to be notarized or signed by a witness, however, it can be invalidated if any portion of it is typed, appears unclear or doesn’t follow the rules laid out by law.

Florida law does not recognizes what is called a nuncupative will. It is made verbally in the presence of witnesses, often when a person is dying and a written will is not an option.

If your estate is large, think about a more formal, complex will to ensure your wishes are met.

Regardless of which way you go, you should seek the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney with knowledge of California law to ensure your wishes are carried out the way you want. If your will isn’t recognized legally, your estate could end up in probate. Probate often causes hurt feelings and financial headaches for the loved ones you’ve left behind.

Also, If you ever want to change your will or disinherit someone, an attorney’s assistance is important to see it through.Even smaller estates can have complexities foreseeable only by an experienced attorney.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.

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