What Are the Elements of a Valid Will in Florida?
Whether you live in Tampa or elsewhere in the state of Florida, one of the most important aspects of the estate planning process is drafting a will. Unlike some other states, the requirements for a valid will in Florida are very specific, and state law does not recognize certain types of wills that other states recognize, such as handwritten wills or verbal wills. To be sure, the elements of a valid will are precise, and it is important for anyone who is considering estate planning in Hillsborough County to work with an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney to ensure that they have a valid will that the state will recognize.
In the meantime, the dedicated attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. want to provide you with some additional information about the elements of a valid will under the Florida Probate Code.
Elements That Any Valid Florida Will Must Include
A valid will in Florida must include the following:
- Be in writing;
- Be signed by the testator;
- Include testator’s name subscribed by some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction;
- Have at least two witnesses (typically who do not have an interest in the will as beneficiaries); and
- Be signed by the two witnesses.
Types of Wills That Are Not Valid Under Florida Law
As we mentioned above, state laws vary when it comes to recognizing different types of wills. While some states will recognize a last will and testament that is handwritten or made verbally, Florida law is extremely specific. Indeed, the following types of wills—which may be perfectly valid and legal in other states—are not recognized in Florida:
- Holographic will: this is a term for a will that is handwritten and signed by the decedent before death. It is extremely important to understand that, even if you have a relative or friend who lives in another state and learned that a holographic will was valid, this is not a valid type of will in Florida when it is handwritten and signed by you without any witnesses. If you only have a holographic will, you will be considered to have died intestate, and your assets will pass according to Florida’s laws of intestate succession. The court will not be able to take into account the terms of your handwritten will.
- Oral will: this type of will is also sometimes known as a “nuncupative” will, and it is a will that is made orally. It is typically made when a person is too ill to execute a written will and to sign it properly with the property signatures from witnesses. You should know that, although some states recognize the validity of nuncupative wills, Florida does not. If you only have a nuncupative will when you die, you will be considered to have died intestate.
Even if you follow most of the requirements for a Florida will, failing to have the proper number of witnesses or other statutory elements can render your will invalid.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Tampa to Learn More
When you have questions about drafting and executing a valid will in Florida, it is important to work with an experienced Tampa wills and trusts lawyer. An advocate at our firm can begin working with you today. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. to learn more about how we can assist you.