David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Wills must be executed according to state laws

The complexity of making an estate plan may cause most people to put it off until it is too late. Others may try to find the quickest and cheapest way to designate where their belongings will go after they die. This may mean jotting a will on a piece of paper or downloading a document from a do-it-yourself website. However, it is important to understand Florida law when it comes to wills and other elements of estate planning.

A will can be a comprehensive part of a simple estate plan if it is properly executed. Each state has its own probate laws, so those people who have a will prior to moving to Florida would be wise to meet with an attorney to ensure the will complies with state law. For example, Florida does not recognize holographic wills, which are wills a person writes by hand and signs without witnesses. It is possible to write a valid will by hand as long as eligible witnesses sign it as well.

Nuncupative wills are oral wills, typically expressed when one is on his or her death bed. Florida does not recognize nuncupative wills, so it is wise for one to take steps to make a will long before the individual is too ill or infirm to execute one lawfully. At any time after one is 18 and as long as one is of sound mind, it is appropriate to take steps to make an estate plan.

Leaving an estate without an appropriate plan places a person's loved ones at the mercy of probate court. Without wills, estates may be distributed according to state law, which may differ greatly from the deceased's true wishes. By meeting with an estate planning attorney, one can gain complete information and compassionate guidance about the most appropriate estate planning tools available for one's circumstances.

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