Florida Statutes s. 732.502 pertains to the execution of wills and provides as follows:
732.502 Execution of wills. Every will must be in writing and executed as follows:
(1)(a) Testator’s signature –
1. The testator must sign the will at the end; or
2. The testator’s name must be subscribed at the end of the will by some other person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction.
(b) Witnesses – The testator’s:
1. Signing, or
a. That he or she has previously signed the will, or
b. That another person has subscribed the testator’s name to it
must be in the presence of at least two attesting witness.
(c) Witnesses’ signatures. The attesting witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.
. . . . .
(4) No particular form of words in necessary to the validity of a will if it is executed with the formalities required by law.
According to Florida law, a will can be witnessed after it is signed as long as the statute is followed with respect to the acknowledgement contained in F.S. s. 732.502(b). It is also interesting to note that there is no statutory form or particular wording that is required as long as the will is executed properly. Common language in a will provides for the payment of taxes and other expenses. If taxes are owed from the estate, the government will collect what it is owed no matter what language is contained in the will!
Here is another important aspect of will execution. Some states, including Florida (Fla.Stat. 732.502), have adopted a statute that provides for the “proving”, or establishing the authenticity) of a will without the need for testimony. This is accomplished by an acknowledgment of the testator, or maker of the will, along with affidavits or statements under oath of the witnesses to the will. The acknowledgment and affidavits are made before an officer authorized to administer oaths by the state, such as a notary public. One of the greatest benefits of a self-proving will is that witnesses and beneficiaries are not required to appear in court to testify that the will is valid. Having a self-proving will can be helpful if a witness cannot be located or is deceased.
Most people make copies of their original will and keep the original in a safe place. It is a good idea to mark any copies with the location of the original will. Good places to store the original will are with the attorney who drafted it or a home safe. Some people store their original will in a safe deposit box. However, this can be tricky for the person named to execute the will because most financial institutions have strict rules about who can access a safe deposit box and a court order may be necessary.
If you are interested in retaining my services in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and/or throughout Palm Beach County and the State of Florida to prepare or change a will, please feel free to contact me at (561) 602-4447 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.elizabethmontgomerylaw.com.