Characteristics of A Properly Executed Will

Characteristics of a Properly Executed Will

Legal documents are sometimes invalidated because they were signed incorrectly, not dated, not notarized, or not signed at all. Meeting legal requirements is especially critical when it comes to your Last Will and Testament. After all, people may not learn a Will is deficient until it is too late to have the testator re-do the document. It’s important to know what constitutes a properly executed Will.

How can we be certain a properly executed Will is submitted?

Once a Last Will and Testament has been prepared, and reviewed by the testator, it’s time to execute or sign it. The people typically involved when a Will is signed include:

  • The person making the Will, called the testator;
  • Two witnesses who do not have an interest in the estate; and
  • A notary public.

Although the testator’s attorney will often be there when the Will is signed, Florida law does not require the attorney’s attendance.

As for the actual signing of the Will, several signatures are required:

  • The testator signs at the end of the will. If physically unable to sign, the testator can direct another person to sign on his or her behalf. This must be done in the presence of the witnesses.
  • Two witnesses need to sign acknowledging that the testator signed the Will or directed someone to sign for the testator’s name. In addition, it’s important that the witnesses actually see the testator sign the Will while in each other’s presence. In other words, the testator and both witnesses should be in the same physical location at the same time when the Will is executed.

The actual Will itself does not need to be notarized, though it’s a good idea. However, under Florida law, the Will can be made “self-proving” by attaching an acknowledgement signed by the testator, the two witnesses, and the notary public. The acknowledgement states that the testator signed the Will in the presence of both witnesses and in the presence of the notary. When a Will is self-proved, the probate court usually will not require additional proof that the Will is valid before admitting it to probate.

Make Sure Your Will Checks All the Boxes

John Mangan is an experienced Florida estate planning attorney who has been board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. At the Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we have developed effective Wills and estate plans for many clients in Palm City and surrounding communities like Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie. Call us at 772-324-9050 to set up an appointment or use our Contact Form.

Author: John Mangan, JD, MBA
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