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Florida Will Requirements

Tue 15th Mar, 2022 Estate Planning

Making a will, which is known as a last will and testament, is extremely important to do in Florida in order to protect your property and to ensure that it is passed to your heirs according to your wishes. In order for a will to be enforced and for assets to be distributed according to the wishes of the testator (the person making the will), the will must meet certain requirements under the Florida Probate Code. An experienced Florida estate planning attorney can begin working with you today on your will to ensure that it meets the requirements specified by Florida law.

Elements of a Valid Will in Florida

When a person dies in Florida with a will, the probate process can begin. During probate, the last will and testament will be authenticated and the estate administered. In order for a Florida will to be probated and for the deceased’s property to be distributed according to the terms outlined in the will, the will must meet a number of specific requirements identified in the Florida Probate Code. Those requirements include the following:

  • Will must be in writing;
  • Testator must be 18 years of age or older, or must be an emancipated minor;
  • Testator must be of sound mind;
  • Will must be signed at the end of the document by the testator, or the testator’s name must be signed at the end of the will by another person who does so in the presence of the testator and at the testator’s direction;
  • Two witnesses must be present to witness the testator signing the will or acknowledging that another party has done so in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction; and
  • Those two witnesses must sign the will in the presence of both the testator and one another.

It is important to know that nuncupative wills (wills made orally) are not enforceable in Florida. While the Florida Probate Code does not expressly distinguish between typed wills and holographic wills (wills written by hand), holographic wills can only be valid if they meet all of the requirements set forth under the Florida Probate Code, including the presence and signatures of two witnesses.

Consequences If a Will Does Not Meet Florida Law’s Requirements

If a will does not include all of the requirements discussed above, the will can be invalidated, and Florida laws of intestate succession will apply. When a person dies without a valid or enforceable will, that person is said to have died intestate, and the deceased’s estate will pass to heirs according to intestate succession laws, which result in a surviving spouse or descendants receiving the deceased’s assets first, followed by parents then siblings if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving descendants.