Wills & Probate Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Will?
A Will is a written direction controlling the disposition of property at death. The laws of each state set the formal requirements for a legal Will. The person who makes the Will is called the testator. In Florida;
- The testator must be at least 18 years old, and of sound mind.
- The testator must sign the Will in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the Will in the presence of the testator and each other. This is a process known as “executing” the Will.
- No particular form of words is necessary to make the Will valid, provided the Will is executed as required by Florida law.
The Will does not become final until the death of the testator. The Will may be changed or modified by the testator by executing a new Will or by a “codicil”, which is simply an addition or amendment executed with the same formalities of a Will.
What is the purpose of a Will, and why would I need one?
By having a Will, the testator determines how their assets will be distributed upon their death, rather than the court allocating it according to a standard set of procedures. A testator may appoint a personal representative to manage their estate upon their death.
If the deceased does not have a Will, the property will be distributed to any heirs adoring to a formula fixed by law. The property does not go to the State of Florida unless there are no heirs at law. The court will appoint a personal representative, known or unknown to the deceased, to manage the estate.
Does a Will have to be filed?
Florida law requires that the original Last Will and Testament be filed with the Clerk’s Office within ten (10) days after the death of the decedent in the County of legal residence.