Requirements of a Valid Will
There are five (5) key components of a Valid Florida Will. Each of these components is listed and described in detail below. A will executed in Florida without any of these five (5) components would be considered invalid and not admissible in court.
- The Testator must be at least eighteen (18) years old.
- The Testator must be of sound mind, i.e., able to understand the extent of his or her property, the natural objects of his or her bounty and the nature of his or her disposition.
- The Testator must be free from fraud and undue influence.
- The Will must be signed by the Testator or by someone else for him or her in his or her presence and at his or her direction. Such signature can be a mark or symbol if affixed with the intent that it constitutes a signature.
- The Will must be signed at the end of the document. Signing, or acknowledgment thereof, must be in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses who must attest to the Will in the presence of the Testator and in the presence of each other. Note that the witnesses need not see the Testator sign as long as the Testator acknowledges his or her signature in their presence. Although it is not recommended, interested persons can serve as witnesses without jeopardizing their interests under the Will.
The use of a “self-proving” affidavit avoids the necessity of searching for witnesses after the Testator’s death to prove the Will by their testimony. Such an affidavit, signed by the Testator and by both witnesses, may be executed at the time of, or subsequent to, execution of the Will.
Recording of a Will in the public records prior to death is not a legal requirement to its validity and has no legal effect in Florida (except making such Will a part of the public records).
The Custodian (holder) of the original Will must deposit such Will with the court within ten (10) days after learning of the Testator’s death. Willful failure to do so without reasonable cause makes the Custodian liable for any costs and damages sustained.
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If you or a loved one needs help with a situation involving one of these areas, please contact Thomas N. Silverman, P.A. at 561.775.7500 (24 hours) or info@FloridaProbateCounsel.com.