St. Petersburg, FL asked in Family Law, Estate Planning and Elder Law for Florida

Q: My father signed a new will several times. We were unable to have it. notarized or witnessed. He is dying. Thank you.

We live in Florida. The previous will was made 40 years ago and he did not read or understand it. The second will is fair to his children. I greatly appreciate your advice.

2 Lawyer Answers
James Clifton
PREMIUM
James Clifton
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Fayetteville, GA
  • Licensed in Florida

A: If the document is not witnessed and notarized, it will not be recognized as a will in Florida. Strict compliance with the law regarding wills is necessary for the document to be enforceable as a will.

Schedule a free consultation to make sure your father's estate plan is formalized appropriately.

Phillip William Gunthert
Phillip William Gunthert
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: I am very sorry for father's illness and his health struggles ongoing. There will be a serious issue with such a Will in Florida, it will not be a valid Will as it does not meet the Florida Statutory requirements of F.S. 732.502 (you can look it up online), what you have described without any witnesses is a Holographic Will, Florida will not accept them or recognize them, the original Will from 40 years ago if valid will be the legal Will or if that one cannot be found Florida Intestate Statutes (without a Will) would be applied. Even if you got the current Will witnessed you could have problems based on your father's mental capacity or even undue influence if anyone is not happy with the outcome and disputes it, so more issues potentially could arise. Also, while Florida only requires the Testator signature and 2 witnesses per the statute, not having the additional self-proving affidavit (notarization) with respect to the witnesses and signing could cause additional headaches. There are traveling and even online notaries, Remote Online Notaries (RON'S) that can help if your father is still capable. Per above, issues can arise.

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