Rules regarding wills in the state of Florida are stated in the 2009 Florida statutes as enacted by the Florida legislature. Wills require specific requirements to be executed properly, and these requirements also extend to any amendments. It is the ultimate duty of a probate judge to determine the validity of a will.
Executing a Will
The testator, also known as the person executing his or her will, must follow certain requirements to properly execute a will. After completion of the last will and testament, the testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses and list their legal name. The witnesses must also sign in the presence of each other and the testator.
The will may be handwritten (by the testator only) or may be typed. Any revisions or additions to the will, known as a codicil, must undergo the same formalities as the original will, including the signatures of the testator and witnesses in the presence of each other. While the will must be executed correctly, there is no specific language as to what the will must say.
Contesting a Will
Upon the death of a testator, the will is presented to the probate court to determine whether it was executed correctly and whether it is valid. An interested party may contest applicable portions or all of the will. A will and any provisions made within are considered void if the will was executed by the following factors: mistake, undue influence, duress or fraud. A probate judge will look at the facts presented to make a determination.
Oftentimes a person will contest a will if the will was executed when the testator was in an incapacitated state where the testator could not competently know what he or she was executing. A contest may also be brought if the will was executed under the undue influence or duress of another person. If the court finds any of the above factors were present, typically the will may be considered invalid. A will can be contested in its entirety or just specific provisions.
Revoking a Will
A testator may revoke a will through a variety of ways. The testator may execute an amendment or codicil to the will. The codicil may strike and replace certain provisions or the will in its entirety. This will take precedence over the former will provisions as long as it is executed with the correct formalities.
The testator or another person under the direction and in the presence of the testator may also revoke the will through physical actions. Florida statute states that the burning, tearing, defacing or destroying of the will with the intent to revoke and cancel the will are all valid methods to formally revoke the will.