Florida law requires that you have at least two witnesses to your will who are 18 or over and deemed competent. A witness can be a friend, someone who works at the law firm of the estate attorney who prepared the will, or another family member.

When using a witness, it is best not to use a family member. You should never use a witness who is also a beneficiary under the will. Witnessing by the the attorney who prepared the will is not ideal, because it could create a conflict of interest situation if the attorney is retained to represent your estate after your death.

Will Signing Witness Procedures

Witnesses should sign in the presence of each other. The will maker, also referred to as the testator, should also sign in front of the witnesses. This should happen at the same time.

A witness must be able to attest that the testator signed the will and that the testator was mentally competent at the time of signing. Otherwise, the will could be found to be invalid and the testator would be considered as though he or she died intestate (without a will). This would affect the beneficiary’s right to inherit and might be in conflict with the testator’s wishes, as to who the testator wants to receive the testator’s assets.

To avoid such a situation, it is best that the testator and the witnesses follow formal procedures and that the will is prepared by a Florida probate and estate attorney.

Self-Proving Will

Under Florida Statutes 732.503, a self- proving affidavit may be used at the time the will is signed. A self proving affidavit must be signed by the witness and notarized at the time of signing the affidavit attached to the testator’s will. If the will was signed in another state, the self-proving affidavit it would also be considered valid. A self-proving affidavit means that it is not necessary to contact the witness after the testator’s death to prove that the will was legally signed by the testator and witnessed.

However, a self-proving affidavit will probably not help if the will is contested, as the witnesses will be required to admit the will to probate anyway.

If you wish to make a will, you should speak to a Miami probate and estate attorney. The attorney can help you with other estate planning strategies as well.

If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.