As I meet with new and existing clients to prepare their estate planning documents I wanted to discuss a few important points to consider. The Florida Bar states “Marriage does not cancel a will in Florida, but a spouse acquired after the execution of your will may receive the same portion of your estate that he or she would have received had you died without a will (at least one-half).”
If you have moved to Florida from another state, it is wise to have your will reviewed by a Florida lawyer in order to be sure that it is properly executed according to the laws of Florida, that the witnesses are readily available to prove your will in Florida, and that your personal representative is qualified to serve in Florida.
Before your will is effective to dispose of your property, it must be proved in the probate court. If the will is self-proving and otherwise valid, it may be admitted to probate without further proof. If the will is not self-proving, it generally must be proved by the oath of one of the witnesses. The oath must be given before a circuit judge, clerk of court, or a commissioner specially appointed by the court for that purpose. (Under certain circumstances, the court may permit the will to be proved by other means permitted by law.) A will can be made self-proving either at the time of its execution or later, which saves the time and expense of locating a witness and obtaining the witness’ oath after your death. For your will to be made self-proving, you must acknowledge the will before an officer authorized to administer oaths; the witnesses must make affidavits before the officer; and the officer must evidence the acknowledgment and affidavits by a certificate attached to or following the will. An appropriate form of certificate is prescribed by Florida law. The self-proving procedure is in addition to the normal execution and witnessing of the will, not in place of it.
No matter how perfect a will may be prepared for you, unless it is properly executed in strict compliance with the laws of Florida, the will may be entirely void. Be sure that you execute your will in the presence of your attorney, who knows exactly how and in what order the will should be signed.
Every person owning property who wishes to exercise control in the disposition of that property when he or she dies, should have a will regardless of the value of the property. Of course, the larger the estate the greater the tax consequences.” If we can assist you with your estate planning questions please feel free to call me at (904)366-2703 or email me at [email protected].