As an estate planning law firm, we constantly espouse the importance of taking the time to draft a comprehensive estate plan long before there will ever be an impending need to make your wishes known and administer the distribution of your assets. After all, when it comes to your testamentary requests, it is always better to plan far ahead. The fact is, however, that many of us are either habitual procrastinators, or we are unwilling to confront the inevitability of our deaths.
When we know that a person’s time on earth is growing short, we refer to it in popular culture as being on their “deathbed.” In a literal sense, this can refer to an actual bed in which someone is dying, or it can refer to being in a terminal state with little time left.
Most people on their deathbeds will seek to rapidly resolve certain affairs in their lives. The most common example of is the “deathbed confession” where a person either confesses their sins in a theological sense in hopes of forgiveness and absolution by their acknowledged deity, or simply confesses to something they wanted someone else to know before they are gone.
Another common attempt to resolve one’s affairs at the last minute is to “create” a deathbed will, which oftentimes means verbally conveying one’s wishes to the witnesses who are present. A verbal request regarding the disposition of property on one’s deathbed is known as a “nuncupative will.”
For example, just before passing away, a dying man may tell his daughter that he wants her to keep his house. However, even if the required number of witnesses to a will under Florida law (2) are present at the time, this type of will is expressly invalid in Florida.
You can make all the verbal deathbed requests that you want regarding the administration of your estate and property after you are gone, but if your wishes are not written, signed by you (or on your behalf by someone else in your presence and with your permission), and witnessed by two other individuals, they will not be recognized as a legally valid and executed will in Florida.
In order to avoid a nuncupative will, which would leave your estate to be administered based on the laws of intestate succession, it is essential that you take the time to plan ahead and draft a thorough estate plan with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact the Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., today to get started.