Wills in Florida

by Beverly Bird
Florida has a reputation for invalidating wills if all legal requirements are not met.

Florida has a reputation for invalidating wills if all legal requirements are not met.

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Florida law allows anyone 18 years of age or older to make a will. However, someone younger than 18 can still make a valid will if he is married, was married or even just lives apart from his parents, as long as the will meets all other Florida requirements. The state is stringent about making sure that wills meet all of its requirements.

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Basic Requirements

Your will must be in writing and signed by you at the end of the document. Your signature elsewhere can invalidate it. Oral wills, also called nuncupative wills, are not accepted under any circumstances in Florida. Handwritten wills are valid only if they meet all other requirements and bear the signatures of two witnesses. If the testator, or the person making the will, cannot write his own signature, he can ask someone else to do it for him.

Witnesses

Florida requires two witnesses to sign a will, and they must do it in the presence of the testator and each other. Florida has no law against a witness also being a beneficiary.

Dispensation for Military

The wills of members of the U.S. military do not have to meet Florida’s requirements if they meet federal requirements. Federal law requires that these wills be signed in the presence of a military assistance attorney and two additional witnesses.

Provisions for Spouses

Like most states, Florida protects a spouse from disinheritance. If you write your spouse out of your will, Florida will override your will to give her a share of your estate as long as she makes a claim for it against your estate within six months of receiving notice that your will is in probate. She is entitled to 30 percent of the overall value of your assets, called the “elective estate.” This includes the value of assets that would not normally pass through probate, such as money diverted to revocable trusts and even property that was given away in the year preceding your death. The only exception to this law is if your spouse signed a premarital or postnuptial agreement waiving her right to any part of your estate. Otherwise, if you lived together as a married couple in the state of Florida at the time of your passing, she is eligible to make this statutory claim.