Ensuring that a thoughtful and meticulous will has been drafted is a vitally important part of any estate planning endeavor. As your will is a binding legal document that expresses how you wish for all of your worldly possessions to be distributed upon your death, it is critical to expend the time and energy to ensure it is done properly. The personal representative of your will must file the document upon your death with the Florida Probate Court, which will subsequently oversee the allocation of all assets in your name and possession should a probate proceeding be required. If you have not yet drafted a will, or have concerns about the validity of a will drafted by either yourself or another attorney, we encourage you to contact our office. We can review your out of state will for validity in Florida, as well as provide counsel for changes to an existing Florida will.
Wills in the State of Florida
Unlike many other legal documents prepared by attorneys, wills require the most formal signing procedure. There is an added level of importance when it comes to drafting a will, as one that is not signed in complete compliance with Florida Law may be deemed inadmissible by the Probate Court, resulting in your assets being distributed in accordance with the provisions set up by the State, rather than your wishes.
Estate taxes come into play whether or not an estate is probated. While the State of Florida does not impose an estate or inheritance tax, the Federal government does, as do many other states. We can advise you as to whether or not your assets will be subject to estate taxes in the event of your death.
For a will to be considered valid in the State of Florida, it must be:
- Signed by the author;
- Signed by two witnesses, who are both present, in-person at the same time and place
Although notarization is not required by law, if a Will is signed in the presence of notary public, the will is deemed to be self-proving, which means your estate will not have to endure the time delays and expense of locating the witnesses and have them provide an Oath to the Court in order to have the Court admit the Will to probate.
A last will and testament in the State of Florida should include a separate clause that specifically designates a personal representative (known in other states as an executor) to administer the estate. This personal representative, who also is referred to as the "custodian," must file the will with the clerk of the court within 10 (ten) days after becoming aware of the death in question.