Many Floridians think that a will is enough to satisfy their estate planning needs. This is because wills and the issues that sometimes accompany them are easy to portray in the media, including film and television. Yet, the truth of the matter is that there are many other aspects of estate planning that can ensure that an estate plan is holistic in nature. Everyone who creates a will needs to ensure that it is executed in a clear and legally valid manner. Otherwise an entire estate plan, regardless of how thorough it is, can be placed in jeopardy.
Under Florida law, certain legal elements must be met before a will is considered valid. To start, every will must be reduced to writing and signed by the testator at the end of the document. If the testator is unable to physically sign the document, then it must be subscribed by another individual at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s presence.
But the requirements don’t end there. At least two witnesses must sign off on the will to show that the testator in fact intended to endorse the document. These witnesses must sign the document in front of each other and in front of the testator. These same elements are required when any changes are made to a will, too. If these elements are met, a will may be considered valid.
However, a legally valid will can still run into issues when it is drafted in an ambiguous or vague way. This can create confusion as to the testator’s intent, which may lead to estate distribution that is counter to the testator’s wishes. Those Floridians who would like to ensure that their wills, trusts and entire estate plan are clear and drafted in a way that will further their estate’s interests should consider discussing the matter with a legal professional.