Under Florida Statutes FS 732.502, a will is considered valid and will be admitted to probate in the Miami-Dade probate court if the original will contains the signature of the decedent and two attesting witnesses. A testator of a will must be 18 years of age or older at the time of making of the will and mentally competent. The will must be made freely by the testator without undue influence, duress or fraud.
The state of Florida has a requirement that the witnesses and the testator all sign in each other’s presence. If the will is not challenged, this requirement is not looked into, but if the will is challenged and it is discovered that the witnesses and testator were not in each other’s presence at the time of signing, even if they were in a different room in the same office, the will may be declared invalid.
Making a Will
Making a will requires the assistance of an experience Miami probate and estate attorney to make sure that a will is valid under Florida laws. There are many aspects of a will that the testator must consider such as who gets which assets, who to appoint as the personal representative, charitable donations, etc. The attorney can help the testator make these determinations.
Wills Made in Another State
Wills that are made by a decedent while residing in another state are recognized as valid in Florida so long as they meet the requirements under the statute of the state where the will was made. So if you and your husband were New York residents at the time your husband made his will, and at the time of your husband’s death, he was a resident of Florida and residing in Miami, chances are the Miami-Dade probate court will admit the existing will to probate, provided the original will is filed with the court.
A handwritten holographic will may not be recognized under Florida law, except under extraordinary circumstances when the decedent is serving active duty in the military and may be in a life threatening combat situation. Before a spouse or other relative leaves for active duty, it is recommended that the person make a valid will in case something happens, and they are killed in the line of duty. This way, the person has control over who gets their assets after their death, and the decedent’s family won’t have to deal with additional burdens of trying to determine who is entitled to inherit the decedent’s assets.
When a Miami decedent passes away, the surviving spouse or heirs usually turn to hiring a Miami probate and estate attorney to assist with the filing of the petition with the Miami-Dade probate court to initiate the probate proceeding and get the will admitted by the court. The attorney can also assist with supervising and handling claims, attending court hearings, making sure that required court and tax deadlines are met, that the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries and other estate management matters.
If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.