Each state has different requirements for Last Will & Testaments.
Some states allow Holographic Wills. Holographic wills are written in the testator’s own handwriting and are signed by the testator. Witnesses are generally required, but they do not have to witness the actual signing of the will, they only have sign/attest to the will being valid.
Florida will honor a holographic will if the deceased executed the will in a different state where Holographic wills are permitted.
Florida does not allow the drafting of holographic wills within the state. Florida Statute 732.502 defines the requirements of a valid Florida Last Will & Testament:
- The testator must sign the Will at the end of the document or a person must sign the Will for the testator in front of him/her and at the testator’s direction.
- Two (2) witnesses that sign/attest that the testator signed the will or directed someone to sign it for them.
- The witnesses must sign in the presence of each other and the in the presence of a testator.
Most attorneys ensure that Last Will & Testaments they draft are notarized. The notary can be classified as one of the witnesses, however, it is best practice to have a notary and two witnesses involved in your Last Will & Testament signing.
There is no particular form or words that must be included in the content of the Last Will &
Testament, however the purpose of the will is to outline who the beneficiaries of your assets will be, designate your Personal Representative(s), provide special instructions regarding your funeral and more.
When designating beneficiaries it is important to include their full name and address if possible. Descriptions of beneficiary relationships are also helpful (i.e. my sister, my son, my friend). It is also important to be clear as to what property you wish to leave to the beneficiary (i.e. 50% of my bank accounts at the time of my death, any vehicle(s) I own at the time of my death).
A failure to be specific about the identity of your beneficiaries and/or the asset(s) you intend to leave them can led to court intervention and costs that your estate will have to pay.
A thorough description of the Personal Representative(s) that you wish to appoint is also imperative. A name and description should be included. An address may also be provided. The same applies for Alternate (backup) Personal Representative(s) apply.
Alternate Personal Representatives are generally a good idea, as some individuals prefer not to take on the tasks associated with the Personal Representative role and may opt out.
Others may have predeceased you or are unable to be Personal Representative for other reasons. It is important to note that Florida allows out of state Personal Representatives only if they are a relative
Special funeral instructions should be placed in your will.
If you have prepaid for your funeral expenses, this should be mentioned in your will. You can be as specific as you like with your funeral instructions. If you do not mention any specific funeral requests, your Personal Representative will make all decisions related to your funeral/burial.