In Florida, having a basic estate plan is an important step to ensuring a smooth transition for the family left behind. A will is one of the most common documents. Wills need not be complex, but there are inherent legal requirements to make the document valid. This can avoid problems for the family and keep any dispute or disagreement to a minimum. Often, many people who are making a will – testators – will not be fully aware of these key points in having a legal will. When preparing the document, making certain it is legal and covers all the bases in terms of legality is just as important as asset protection and determining which heirs will receive what properties.
When the will is completed, it is critical that the testator sign it at its end or the testator’s name is subscribed at its end by another person who was in the presence of and did so at the direction of the testator. Regarding witnesses, there must be a minimum of two to attest that it was signed or acknowledged. With acknowledgement, it is important that the will was previously signed or another person subscribed to the testator’s name.
The testator must be present when the witnesses sign the will and the witnesses must be present together with one another. Unless the will is holographic (handwritten) or nuncupative (oral), it will be valid if it was executed by a person who is not a resident of Florida before or after the law went into effect, it is considered valid if it is valid in the state or country where it had been executed. If there is an addition or supplement to the will (a codicil), that too will be valid based on these laws if it adheres to them.
It is a mistaken belief that problems with an estate plan stem from complicated missteps. Often, the biggest legal issues emanate from failing to adhere to the basics of creating wills. When crafting an estate planning document – even the simplest kind – it is wise to have legal advice from a law firm that specializes in wills, trusts, and other estate planning devices.