Did you know that, according to the US Census Bureau, Florida has become one of the most common states people choose to move to? And we aren’t just talking about retirees, either! Whether it be the beaches, the theme parks, or the weather that brings you to live in our beautiful Sunshine State, there are a few things you should know: bring lots of sunscreen and aloe, don’t feed the alligators, and check if you have an invalid will.
During your move, there were certainly countless things you had to keep track of to make sure everything went perfectly. Naturally, it makes sense that the last thing that would be on your mind would be updating your legal documents. It is even more reasonable to think that, having already prepared documents to dictate how you want your estate handled after you pass, you have nothing to worry about! But the truth of the matter is that your will from another state, or even another country, may not be valid in Florida.
So how can you be sure that your will isn’t an invalid will in the state of Florida?
Luckily, due to Fla. Stat. Section 732.502(2) (2022), a much broader range of wills is now acceptable as valid going forward as well as retroactively. This “reciprocity” allows for wills to be accepted from out of state so long as they followed the legal requirements of the state they were signed in, barring holographic or nuncupative wills. Unfortunately, this requires the expense of an attorney from your former state to attest to the validity of your old will.
Still, Florida rules for executing valid wills is stringent compared to a number of other states. These “execution formalities” can still create opportunities for your will to be invalidated, even when following the reciprocity principle.
The core parameters for these formalities to be met are:
- 1: The testator must sign, or be present and direct for their name to be subscribed to the document,
- 2: two individuals must be present to witness the testator’s signing or subscribed name,
- 3: and those two witnesses must also sign in the testator’s and each other’s presence.
While it is possible to create a will following the statutes laid out by the Florida Probate Code, there are always legalities that may be missed during the do-it-yourself process. You may unintentionally create an invalid will if you do not have the appropriate legal knowledge. The only way to be sure the process is done correctly is by hiring a knowledgeable, experienced, and thorough attorney that can help you carry out your desires exactly the way you want to. Then you can go out and enjoy the rest of what Florida has to offer!
The experienced team of attorneys here at Hemness Faller, The Law Office formerly known as Emma Hemness, P.A., are here for you and your family and we want to be YOUR estate planning and elder law attorneys. After all, we are ordinary people, providing extraordinary guidance backed by years of experience and advocacy for the vulnerable citizens in our community. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.