Florida laws governing a last will and testament are found in the Florida Probate Code, the section of law pertaining to wills and estates. These statutes govern all aspects of creating a will in Florida and understanding a few key provisions can help ensure that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.
According to Florida law, you must be over the age of 18 to make a will. The only minors who can make a will are emancipated minors who have received an order from a court granting the minor rights of an adult. In order to make a will you must also be of "sound mind." That is, you must be mentally competent and understand what you are doing when you execute a last will and testament.
Execution of a Will
The manner in which a last will and testament is executed or signed is very important, according to the provisions of the Florida Probate Code. The testator, or the person creating the will, must sign the instrument in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must sign the will in front of each other and the testator.
Most Florida wills contain a "self-proof" clause. This is a statement made, under oath, by the testator and the witnesses that the testator was of sound mind when she signed the will. This is not a required part of the will. However, this provision eliminates the need for witnesses to be called into court after the testator's death to verify her mental stability at the time she signed the will. To be valid, the signatures verifying this provision must be notarized pursuant to Florida law.
Marriage and Divorce
If the testator marries following the execution of a will, the instrument does not become void. Rather, the spouse automatically is entitled to his share of the estate pursuant to the Florida Probate Code. The Florida Probate Code provides the new spouse a 50 percent share of the estate despite the preexisting will.
If the testator divorces following the execution of the will, the instrument automatically becomes void under Florida law when the divorce decree issues.
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