The Last Will and Testament has been used as an estate planning document for centuries. In fact, Wills are often the first – and only – document people think of when they think about estate planning. Most people know about Wills from books, news about Will contests and celebrity estates, movies, and television shows. As common as they are, though, there are some little known facts about Wills.
Let’s say your loved one dies, and you can only find your copy of their Last Will and Testament. Can you have this copy admitted to probate? When the original Will is missing, it is usually assumed that the testator destroyed the Will. A judge may find that the copy is not admissible.
However, the law also provides a way for probating lost or destroyed Wills. Florida Statutes Section 733.207 states that an estate may be probated if:
A disinterested witness, by the way, is someone who has no personal interest in the estate. For example, an heir who expects to receive something from the estate cannot be a disinterested witness.
The best practice for dealing with your Will is to put it in a safe place and make sure your personal representative or family members know where it is kept.
States enact their own laws, and often those laws conflict with the laws enacted by other states. However, Florida law generally considers an out-of-state Will to be valid if it was valid under the laws of the state in which it was executed. For example, if you make a valid Pennsylvania Will, then move to Florida, it’s possible the Will might be accepted into probate.
But why take that chance?
It is still important to have your estate plan reviewed when you move from state to state. This is especially true if you have business or property interests in more than one state.
Some people feel that they can write a Will and never have to change it. Failing to review and amend your Will periodically can lead to trouble. For example, probate may be difficult and expensive if the testator left behind a Will that failed to address major life events.
Florida law addresses how the Will may be amended or revoked:
Attorney John Mangan is board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. Please call us at 772-324-9050 or use our Contact Form to set up an appointment. We help clients throughout Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.