A Last Will and Testament is the document that is used to specify what will happen to your property after you die. A will is valuable to reduce confusion, stress, and conflict among surviving family members to whom property may be gifted or given upon your passing. Ideally it should clearly states your wishes for property distribution to loved ones.
In the State of Florida, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for a person’s estate to be distributed in accordance with their wishes. These requirements are important because they protect a family estate from being distributed by the Florida Statutes, which may not align with how the deceased would want it distributed. The Florida Statutes outlines the formalities and consequences of not having a valid will.
Florida Wills Requirements Summary
- A Florida resident who dies without a will, dies “intestate”. In such cases, the probate court will determine how the estate will be distributed, according to the laws of intestacy.
- Florida law does not recognize two types of wills:
- Holographic wills- a handwritten will without any witnesses will not be recognized
- Nuncupative wills- a will made verbally in the presence of witnesses, even if terminally ill, will not be recognized by the state of Florida.
- Any person who is of sound mind and who is either 18 years of age or an emancipated minor may make a will.
- Florida requires wills to be in writing.
- The person who will execute the will (the testator) must sign the will. Even an “X” will serve as a signature if they are unable to sign their name. They may also direct another to sign on their behalf, in their presence, if they are unable to sign.
- Two witnesses are required. Florida requires that wills be signed by two witnesses in the presence of each other and the testator.
- Wills from other states or jurisdictions and executed in accordance with their laws will be recognized as valid in the Florida.
- Changes to a will, called a codicil, will be recognized by in Florida without rewriting the entire will if they are executed with the same formalities of the will.
Estate planning including wills, trusts, healthcare directives are important to protect property, well-being and wishes while maintaining family harmony upon a person’s passing. Please contact Preddy Law Firm, P.A. at (904) 665-0005 to schedule a consultation with Rose Marie K. Preddy, Attorney at Law. Rose Marie Preddy of Preddy Law Firm, P.A. has significant experience representing clients and their families in estate planning matters.