Rules for Wills in Florida

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Rules for Wills in Florida

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

In Florida, state law governs estate-planning procedures including the creation and execution of a will. Florida Probate Code Chapter 732 addresses matters related to this particular document and lays out specific requirements for its format, contents, and proofing in order to be valid in Florida. If a testator does not follow these requirements, a Florida court may consider the will partially or entirely void. In that case, default intestate succession laws apply, and the Florida court typically distributes the testator's estate to the closest living relatives.

Businessman looking at papers

Requirements for Creating a Will

When creating a valid will in Florida, a testator must meet certain simple but strict requirements and prerequisites.

Age and Mental Capacity

Many states, if not all, require that in order to enter into a binding will, a person must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The testator must be aware of their actions and what they are signing, and they cannot have been labeled incompetent in a prior legal proceeding. In Florida, an emancipated minor can create a testament.

Conveyance and Witnesses

According to Section 732.502 of the 2018 Florida Statutes, every valid will must be in writing (typed or handwritten) and signed by the testator in front of at least two witnesses. Oral, videotaped or audio taped, and holographic (written entirely in the testator's handwriting but not witnessed) testaments are not valid under Florida law. The testator's signature must be at the end of the document, and two attesting witnesses must also sign it in the presence of the testator and each other. Witnesses must be competent and at least 14 years old.

Distribution of Property

A testator can include almost any type of asset in their will, including any asset in which they hold an individual, separate, or divisible interest. This can include real or personal property, bank accounts, investments, and cash. A testator can then designate how and to whom they want their property distributed. For example, they can identify a single beneficiary to receive a specific asset or assign a percentage of their assets to each beneficiary.

Florida law explicitly provides that a married testator can disinherit the surviving spouse as a beneficiary to their estate by including a provision in the will explaining their intent to do so. However, any marital property owned by both spouses, such as the marital home, cannot be the subject of such disinheritance, unless the surviving spouse elects to waive their right to inherit such property.

Wills Executed in Other States

Florida law recognizes valid testaments executed in a state other than Florida or from a different country, so long as the will is valid in that jurisdiction.

Creating a will is a simple way to plan for what happens to your estate when you die. However, it is crucial that you follow the exact requirements under Florida law to ensure that this document is valid and that your assets transfer according to your wishes. In Florida, you can type or handwrite your testament, but you must sign the end of it in the presence of two witnesses. Your witnesses must be competent and over 14 years old, and they must also sign the testament in your presence and in front of each other. If a court considers the document invalid for any reason, it will distribute your property according to Florida's intestacy laws.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.