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How do I execute a will in Florida?

In our previous post about reasons a Florida probate judge might declare a will to be invalid, we mentioned improper execution. “Execution” refers to the stage at which the decedent created the will, perhaps with the help of an estate planning attorney.

Florida law provides specific requirements for the proper execution of a will. Failure to follow these rules could result in the will not being carried out according to the testator’s wishes.

The first requirement is that the will be in writing. In general, it is difficult to convince a court that a person who died intestate (that is, without a written estate plan) had made verbal statements that amounted to a valid will.

The written will must be signed by the testator and at least two witnesses, all of whom must sign in the presence of each other. A handwritten will that has only the testator’s signature is known as a “holographic will.” (Despite the term, holographic wills have nothing to do with 3-D light projections.) Florida is among the states that do not recognize holographic wills.

Besides these rules, Florida generally allows testators to craft their wills as they see fit. The statute requires “no particular form of words,” as long as the will “is executed with the formalities required by law.” However, it is always a good idea to put your wishes into language that is as clear and understandable as possible. An estate planning attorney who has helped draw up numerous wills can be helpful here.

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