Considering the distant future is something that many people often overlook in day-to-day living. On the other hand, sometimes there are individuals who are ready to plan for every step of the way in life. Whether you are a person in the former or latter category, creating a will is a wise choice for many reasons. Although your loved ones may think that they know how you wish for your personal property to be distributed upon your passing, you should formalize these wishes by using a will attorney. Only then can your wishes for asset distribution be guaranteed.
Although the State of Florida has a system of laws in place in case you pass without a will, it is much easier and less time-consuming for survivors if they know how you wish for your assets to be distributed. Perhaps you have yet to create a will because you think it will be a difficult and insurmountable task. On the other hand, maybe you created a will in the past, and you wish to change it. For reasons like these, hiring a will attorney is both a practical and smart decision. A will attorney can assist you in the creation and execution of a will.
How is a Will Executed?
In Florida, the creator or maker of a will is called the testator. In order for a will to be considered legally valid, there are a few requirements. Chapter 732 of the Florida Statutes states Florida law on wills. Florida Statute 732.502 specifies what is necessary for the execution of a will. When the statutes or legal documents refer to the word “execution,” the statutes and legal documents do not mean “execution” in the colloquial or generic sense of the word. They are not referring to the act that carries out a sentence of death; instead, the word “execution” when used in reference to wills means creating a will that is signed and legally binding. In order for a will to be legally binding in Florida, a will must be a written document. The will cannot be oral or spoken. The testator, (the creator of the will), must sign the written document. Specifically, the testator must sign at the end of the will. Alternatively, if the testator is unable to physically sign at the end of the will, then another person may sign for the testator. This person must sign in the presence of the testator, and according to the direction of the testator.
Furthermore, a will must be witnessed and notarized. In the presence of two witnesses, the testator or the person signing for the testator must sign the will. If the will has already been signed by the testator, then it may be sufficient for the testator to notify the two witnesses that they have already signed the will or that another person has signed the testator’s name to the will. When it is time for the signature of the witnesses, the two witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator. In addition, the two witnesses must sign in the presence of one another. It is insufficient if the two witnesses do not sign in the presence of one another or do not sign in the presence of the testator.
When considering the legal disputes that arise when a will is contested, many people wonder whether a person that is interested in the outcome of the will should be prevented from signing as a witness by law. Perhaps a person will likely have a substantial benefit from the creation of the will. For instance, a person may know that they will inherit a large sum of money from the testator of a will. According to Florida Statute 732.504, this does not prevent that person from signing as a witness. The only legal requirement in Florida to be a witness is competency. It is necessary that a person is competent to be a witness.
The Legal Requirements of a Testator
Speaking of the testator, Florida law requires that a person be 18 years of age in order to make a will. However, similar to most laws, there are usually exceptions. If a person is an emancipated minor, they may also make a will. Most importantly, a person must be of “sound mind” in order to create a will. More often than not, when a will is contested it is usually argued that the testator was not of “sound mind” when creating or signing the will. When a will is contested, it means that someone is objecting or opposing the will. The assistance of a will attorney is necessary for parties on either side of such a legal dispute. However, with the legal help of a will attorney during the creation and execution of a will, the likelihood of legal disputes regarding the will should be greatly diminished. Florida Statute 732.501 details the legal requirements of a testator.
Additional Legal Considerations and Questions about Wills
Additional legal concepts that a will attorney may explain to you include revocation of a will, incorporation by reference, revival of a will by revocation, and more. Perhaps you need assistance in contesting a will because you consider the will invalid. Although these may seem like arduous legal tasks and concepts that would take quite some time to fully understand, a will attorney can help you get to the bottom of any questions or concerns you may have. Far more than just a practical matter, hiring a will attorney to advise you in the creation and execution of your will is a smart choice. At Bret Jones, P.A. we do our best to provide a smooth and comprehensive explanation of all legal matters for the benefit of our clients. A happy client is an informed client that wholeheartedly understands the choices that are available to them.