Every year, numerous estates become entangled in conflict or litigation due to errors in the decedent’s Will. When it comes to something as critical as an estate plan, the foundation cannot afford to be found invalid by the probate court.
Whether you already have a Will or plan on making one soon, consider the following information to assess its validity, and contemplate hiring a Jurado & Associates, P.A. Estate Planning Attorney to ensure the legal efficacy of your Will.
The Consequences of an Invalid Will
In cases where someone dies without a Will or their Will is deemed invalid, their estate is labeled “intestate,” falling under default Florida rules. The probate court then determines how assets will be distributed, prioritizing tax payments, claims, debts, and probate fees before distributing the remaining “residue” to your next of kin according to state intestacy laws. To ensure your assets go to specific heirs and that you select the personal representative/executor of your Will, it is crucial to have a valid Will in place.
The Minimum Requirements of a Valid Will
Florida does not accept oral or handwritten Wills without witness signatures. For a Will executed by a Florida resident to be valid, it must be in writing, and the testator must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind. The testator must understand the document’s nature, purpose, assets bequeathed, recipients, and distribution process. If the testator was mentally impaired during execution, the court may deem the Will invalid.
A Will must be properly signed and executed, with the testator signing the last page in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses, legal adults of sound mind, must sign, attesting to the time and place of execution. Alternatively, someone else may sign the testator’s name in their presence and by their direction.
Florida law does not specify Will content qualifications, allowing flexibility. However, a comprehensive, clear, and detailed Will minimizes omissions or ambiguities. This is crucial for large, complex estates with multiple beneficiaries.
Hire an Estate Planning Attorney from Jurado & Associates, P.A.
Beyond ensuring minimal validity for probate court admission, we draft Wills to be clear and comprehensive, safeguarding your interests. We consult with clients before drafting to represent all their needs. Additionally, we create other legal instruments such as trusts, crucial for estate protection and beneficiary care. For your estate needs, our firm is ready and able to help. Contact us at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to learn more.