Currently, more than one in five state residents is an immigrant, whereas one in eight residents were born in the United States to an immigrant parent. Thus, it is not uncanny to find probate cases involving last wills executed abroad.
In such cases, is it possible to file a foreign will with a probate court in Florida? How to determine the validity of the will? Keep reading to find out.
Is Foreign Will Valid in Florida? – As Provided by Law
Florida Statutes §732.502 outlines the detailed description of how a valid last will must be executed.
First, the testator (person making the will) 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.”
Nonetheless, the testator must sign the last will “in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses.” Then, the attesting witnesses must also “sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.”
If the foreign will has been executed and admitted in another state court, Florida law permits the will to be admitted to probate within state jurisdiction upon meeting the basic requirements. In this regard, the foreign will must be valid under the law of the state or country where it was initially executed.
State law provides that “any will, other than a holographic or nuncupative will, executed by a nonresident of Florida, either before or after this law takes effect, is valid as a will in this state if valid under the laws of the state or country where the will was executed.”
Consequently, the court may use discretion to determine whether a foreign last will may be admitted to probate in Florida.
Is Foreign Will Valid in Florida? – Holographic Wills vs. Nuncupative Wills
Florida Statutes §732.502 (2) clarify that a foreign will, “other than a holographic or nuncupative will” may be valid within state jurisdiction. Holographic wills are handwritten wills, whereas nuncupative wills are oral wills.
Generally, these documents are not accepted by Florida courts. Still, if the foreign will made in the testator’s handwriting has been executed pursuant to the basic requirements (Fla. Stat. §732.502(1)), the court may not consider it a holographic will.
Is Foreign Will Valid in Florida? – Filing for Probate
Once a foreign will is considered valid by the court adjudicating the case, the next step is to determine whether the decedent’s estate must undergo probate. If the foreign will was admitted exclusively to dispose of real property located in Florida, the legal scope of the subsequent processing will be limited to that aim.
Depending on where the deceased person resided upon his/her death, the foreign will must go through a probate court.
If the last will encompasses the distribution of property located in a different country from where the testator resided, then the case is more complex. In such cases, the foreign will must be admitted into a court in the foreign state to probate that particular property under local jurisdiction.
Probating a Foreign Will – Immediately Contact Your Florida Probate Lawyer
Cases involving wills executed abroad may be particularly complex. Waste no time – call Attorneys Romy B. Jurado and Diana L. Collazos at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.