For Florida residents one of the main purposes of estate planning is to preserve their hard-earned assets for posterity. A will is a legally recognized way of communicating to the world the last wishes and desires of a resident for his or her assets and properties after death. It may also be a way for many Florida residents to financially secure the future of their dependents after death.

To be valid in Florida a will must adhere to certain formalities. The purpose of these formalities is to assure that a will is authentic and to make sure that the will was made with full consent of the testator. Certain types of wills are not recognized in Florida. Handwritten wills with no witnesses, known as holographic wills, are not valid in Florida. Oral wills are also not recognized.

Under Florida law, only legal adults can draft a last will and testament. Florida law also dictates that the will must be signed by the person drafting the will and at least two witnesses who must all sign the will in the presence of each other; thus each person is a legal witness to all the signatures.

It is common practice to have the testator and the witnesses sign a self-proving affidavit in the presence of a notary public at the time the will is executed. When a will is self-proved in this manner, it can be admitted to probate without the necessity of the witnesses appearing in court to testify as to its authenticity.

Luis E. Barreto