The last will is the key element of any estate planning strategy, as the document lays out the foundation for a solid estate plan. It is impossible to prepare an estate plan in Florida without preparing a will.
In this article, you will discover whether a divorce invalidates a will in Florida.
Florida Last Will – Understanding the Concept
A last will is a legal document by which someone outlines his or her final wishes associated with one’s estate and dependents. In a will, the testator (the person creating the document) will identify:
- Whether he or she wants to leave their estate to another person
- Whether he or she wants to donate their estate to charity
- Who should inherit the testator’s assets?
- Who is responsible for minor children or loved ones with special needs (appointment of guardianship)?
- Who should execute the testator’s estate subject to probate (appointment of personal representative)?
As required by Florida Statutes §732.901 (1), “the custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.”
Upon receipt of the will, the court will verify the document’s validity and identify whether the decedent’s estate is subject to probate. During probate, the deceased person’s estate will be administered and executed according to the provisions in the will.
Depending on the size of the estate and the value of the testator’s assets, probate may result in a time-consuming and expensive process.
While the last will is a fundamental document for several reasons, many people may use trusts, life insurance policies, and other estate planning tools to convey assets to designated beneficiaries outside of probate.
Executing a Valid Will in Florida – As Provided by Law
The validity of a will in Florida depends on whether the document meets several statutory requirements.
Florida Statutes §732.502 (1)(a) provides that “the testator must sign the will at the end, or the testator’s name must be subscribed at the end of the will by some other person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction.”
Florida Statutes §732.502 (1)(b) specifies that “the testator’s signing, or acknowledgment that he or she has previously signed the will, or that another person has subscribed the testator’s name to it, must be in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses.”
The same statute also provides that “the attesting witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.”
Does Divorce Invalidate a Will in Florida? – The Verdict
Florida Statutes §732.507(2) describes that “any provision of a will that affects the testator’s spouse is void upon dissolution of the marriage of the testator and the spouse, whether the marriage occurred before or after the execution of such will.”
The statute adds that “upon dissolution of marriage, the will shall be construed as if the spouse died at the time of the dissolution of marriage.” Under Florida Statutes §732.507(2)(b), these statutory rules do not invalidate a provision of a will:
- “Executed by the testator after the dissolution of the marriage
- If there is a specific intention to the contrary stated in the will, or
- If the dissolution of marriage judgment expressly provides otherwise”