Are Florida Wills Valid in Missouri?

by Heather Frances J.D. Google
Reviewing your will when you move helps keep it up to date.

Reviewing your will when you move helps keep it up to date.

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When you move from Florida to Missouri, you have to change many things – your driver’s license, vehicle registration and more – but you don’t necessarily have to change your will. Missouri honors Florida wills as long your will was made in accordance with Florida law. However, if your will doesn’t meet Florida’s standards or if your move made some of the terms of your will out-of-date, you may need to change your will.

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Florida Requirements

Under Florida law, you, as the testator, must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor at the time you make your will. You must also be of sound mind, meaning you are capable of understanding what you are doing and directing the terms of your will. If you don’t meet these basic two requirements, your Florida will is invalid no matter what it says. Your will must be in writing, and you must sign it at the end or have someone else sign it on your behalf and in your presence. Two witnesses must observe your signing and must also sign your will. Florida permits beneficiaries named in your will to act as witnesses to the signing, though it is usually best to have disinterested witnesses instead.

Types of Wills

Florida only recognizes written wills, so oral wills, called nuncupative wills, are never valid in Florida. Though Missouri recognizes oral wills under certain limited circumstances, it is generally wise to create a written will instead. Florida allows handwritten wills, called holographic wills, but they must meet the same signature and witness requirements of a written will. Thus, if your Florida will was handwritten and not properly witnessed, your will is not valid in Florida and will not be valid in Missouri.

Self-Proving Wills

Since Florida requires witnesses to prove you, in fact, were of sound mind, of age and actually signed your will voluntarily, your witnesses could be required to come to court to testify about the circumstances of the will signing. To prevent the inconvenience of this type of testimony, both Florida and Missouri now recognize self-proving wills. Such wills require witnesses to sign a separate sworn statement in which the witnesses “testify” that you met all of the state’s requirements for a will signing and that you signed voluntarily. Like a traditional will, a self-proving will that is valid under Florida law is recognized in Missouri.

Changing Your Will

Typically, it is a good idea to review your will when you move to a new state. For example, if your Florida will named Florida family members as guardians of your minor children, you may wish to name Missouri relatives once you move. If your will specifically listed certain property that you no longer own after your move, you can alter your will to list your current property instead. Otherwise, your will may be confusing for your loved ones to interpret after your death. You can change your will by adding a codicil, a separate document listing the changes, but since a codicil must meet the same formalities as a new will, it is often easier to just create a new will under Missouri law.