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Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller, P.A
 

The Basics of Wills in Florida

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”-Benjamin Franklin

This old, trite adage most commonly attributed to Mr. Franklin is perhaps more relevant to the practice of probate law than to any other profession (except, of course, accounting). Many times, potential clients approach attorneys with questions about creating a valid will in preparation for the inevitable. Other times, the loved ones of a deceased family member don't find out that a will is invalid until it is too late for the Deceased to make changes.

If you are considering having a will drafted, then it is important to be aware of the basic requirements which render a will valid. Florida Statute §732.501 states that “any person who is of sound mind and who is either 18 or more years of age or an emancipated minor may make a will.” This requirement is rather straightforward—as long as you are over the age of 18 (providing that you’re not an emancipated minor) and you are legally competent, you may draft a will. However, what is more important in Florida for a will to be valid are the execution formalities. In other words, the will must be executed according to Florida law or even the most basic provisions will not be enforceable.

According to Florida law, every will in the State of Florida must be signed by either the testator (the person for whom the will was drafted) at the end of the will, or by another person in the testator’s presence and at his or her direction. The will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must then sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.

Florida law also states that a will may be made “self-proved” at the time of its execution or at a later date by the acknowledgement of the testator and the affidavits of the witnesses listed on the will. Both of these statements must be made before an officer authorized to administer oaths, such as a notary public. If a will is not made self-proved at the time of execution, additional requirements (such as providing the testimony of one of the witnesses present at the execution of the will) will be necessary before the will may be admitted to probate.

These regulations provide just one example of the complexities with wills and probate in Florida. If you need to have a will drafted, it is important that you seek the counsel of an attorney rather than attempting to do it yourself to avoid costly errors that may invalidate your will. Spare your loved ones the troubles of dealing with an invalid will—hire a lawyer before the worst-case scenario becomes a reality.

In addition to will and probate issues, our firm also takes on cases involving divorce, custody battles, relocation, domestic violence injunctions, criminal defense, personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. While our main office is in Gainesville, we also handle family law matters through our satellite offices in Ocala, Chiefland, Lake City, and Palatka.
For help with your legal issue, contact the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller for a free phone consultation at (866) 496-8752 or via email at Info@ForYourLaw.com

BY: Stephanie N. Mack, Attorney At Law

July 16, 2012
 
 
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