A will is an important legally binding document that will help avoid property disputes within a family and other problems that usually happen around the time of someone’s death. However, wills also have a number of requirements that must be followed carefully, otherwise the courts will act as if the person died without a will and default statutory rules determine their property distribution.

Florida has stricter laws for wills than many other states.

Common mistakes

Florida’s laws only allow a properly drafted and witnessed will to be used in probate courts. For example, if someone has written their own will and it is discovered after their death, this is called a holographic will. The state of Florida is does not recognize these kinds of wills and it will have no legal effect on their property distribution. Florida also does not allow someone to dictate the terms of their will orally to an attorney or witnesses.

Modifications of wills

There are documents that create a modification to a will called a codicil. These must also be properly executed, otherwise the terms of the last valid existing will are not going to be modified. Issues involving wills and codicils can start to become very complex if multiple wills or modifications have been made over the years and the courst have to decide which document or modifications are active, versus which ones have been revoked by subsequent revisions. There are formalities for revoking previous wills that must be followed properly if someone wants to destroy an old will and start over again. Divorces in Florida will also have the legal effect of removing property distribution or gifts to the former spouse. This happens automatically whether the person actually modifies the will after a divorce or not.

Valid wills

In order for a will to actually be recognized by courts, it needs to be formally witnesses by two disinterested parties, and signed by the deceased person and the witnesses in the presence of each other. The will must have been executed after the person reached 18 years of age. Having the will notarized by one of the witnesses also helps if anyone attempts to contest the validity of the document, but it is not required.

It usually helps if this is done long before before the person dies as well, to avoid issues with duress or mental incapacity. These are common ways other family members may attack the validity of a will. If someone was in poor mental health or signed the will just before death, others may bring up their state of mind as a possible way to have the courts revoke it.

If no valid will is found at the time someone’s estate goes before a probate court, the person is said to have died intestate, which means that default rules set out by the government will determine what family members receive their property.

Lawyers are available to assist you in Coral Springs

There are attorneys in your area who specialize in drafting valid wills and dealing with any other related issues that may end up in probate court. For help with creating or modifying a will in an efficient manner in your area, contact Express Law.