Florida residents must meet the following requirements in executing a Will in order for it to be legal in Florida:
- It must be in writing, either hand written or typed (no oral Wills are valid—for example, telling your child who you want to give your property to without writing it down).
- The Will must be signed the person making the Will at the end or, in the event the person is unable to sign the Will, they can direct that his or her name be signed at the end by other person in their presence.
- The person signing the Will must do so in the presence of two other signing witnesses who must also sign in the person’s presence and in the presence of each other. In other words, everyone needs to sign in the same room and one right after the other.
Contrary to popular belief, a Will does NOT need to be notarized in order to be valid in Florida. However, if the Will is also notarized at the same time as its execution, it is considered “self-proving” and is easier to admit to probate after the person’s death.
Florida does not recognize what’s known as “holographic” Wills. These are are hand written or typed Wills that are not witnessed. An example of a holographic Will would be if you sat down and wrote out a letter to your family about your wishes regarding your assets after you die. This is not a valid Will for Florida residents.
Although Florida generally recognizes out of state Wills, Florida courts do not recognize holographic wills even if they are recognized by the state in which it was executed.
Although Do-It-Yourself Wills are becoming increasingly popular, there are many possible missteps that can be made in the proper execution of a Florida Will that can inadvertently render the Will null and void.
In our office, we follow a strict protocol with the execution of our clients’ Wills to guarantee that all execution requirements are met. In over two decades, none of our Wills have ever been thrown out by a Court for improper execution.