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What is required to validly execute a Last Will and Testament in Florida?

When a person goes to the trouble of preparing a Will and executing it, it is important that the Will be signed in such a way that it is enforceable.

Under applicable law, a Last Will and Testament executed in Florida must be signed with certain formalities. First, the person executing the Will (called the "testator" if a man or "testatrix" if a woman) must sign in the presence of two witnesses. Second, those witnesses must then sign in the presence of the testator/testatrix and in the presence of each other. In other words, all three persons-the testator/testatrix and both witnesses-must be in the presence of each other when signing. It is not enough that all three sign the Will-they must all sign in the presence of each other.

An example might be helpful regarding how this formality is sometimes ignored and how that can backfire. Take a situation where a person prints out a "do-it-yourself" Will from the Internet. They sign it and then take it to two neighbors to sign as witnesses. Is this Will validly executed? The answer is an unequivocal "no." Even though the Will has been signed by the testator/testatrix and by two witnesses, it is still not validly executed because all three were not present together when the testator/testatrix signed. As a result, if the Will is challenged and it is discovered that the formality was not followed, then the challenge will be successful.

Often experienced estate attorneys require that a Will signing occur in their office. By doing that, they can control the signing process and make sure all persons are together.

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Attorney Michael Lins
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