How Do I Know If This Will Is Valid in Florida?

It is important to understand the requirements for a writing to be considered a valid Last Will & Testament in Florida to determine how to proceed with the probate process.  

 Under Florida law, any person who is of sound mind and over the age of 18 years old may make a Last Will & Testament (“Will”).  A Will can specify who should be appointed personal representative (executor) and how the assets should be distributed.

 The most important factor in determining whether or not a party’s Last Will & Testament is valid in Florida is whether or not the Will has been validly executed.  Every Will must be signed at the end by the testator or by someone else in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction and the testator must execute the Will in the presence of two attesting witnesses.  The witnesses and the testator must execute the Will in each other’s presence.  

 While the execution of a Will is crucial to its validity at a later date, there are additional steps that can be taken to simplify the probate process.  For example, a “self-proof affidavit” may be added to the end of the Will.  The self-proof affidavit, if properly drafted and executed, will mean that the Will can be admitted to probate without further proof or proceedings.  If a Will does not contain a self-proof affidavit, the Will can be admitted to probate only after the oath of an attesting witness.  In other words, in the absence of a self-proof affidavit, you will need to find a witness to the Will to authenticate the Will before it will be admitted to probate.  Frequently, it is difficult and costly to locate witnesses to a Will that may have been executed decades earlier.  As such, it is important to contact a knowledgeable attorney to make sure that your Last Will & Testament is properly drafted and executed.     

 Furthermore, an experienced attorney can diminish the likelihood of a later Will contest by making sure that the execution formalities are properly conducted and the witnesses will be able to recall the circumstances surrounding the execution at a later date, if called to testify.  

 If you are ever in possession of an original Will, it should be submitted to the Clerk of Court in the county where the Deceased last resided within ten (10) days of death.  If you have any questions regarding how to proceed with the probate process, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates to speak to one of our knowledgeable attorneys about your case. You can reach us toll-free at 800-871-8454.