Is My Florida Will Self-Proving?
A self proving will is a last will and testament that can be admitted to probate without further proof of its authenticity.
In this day and age of one-size-fits-all online legal tools, I've seen more than one will come across my desk that may be a valid will in Florida, but is not a "self-proving" will.
What is the benefit of a self-proving will?
If a will is self-proving, it can be accepted by the Florida probate court without further evidence that it is the decedent's true and authentic last will and testament.
If a will is not self proving, other methods must be used to admit the will to probate under Florida law. The original witnesses may have to be located, evidence may have to be presented to a circuit judge, commissioner, or clerk, and the court must be satisfied that the will represents the actual wishes of the decedent.
If the witnesses cannot be located, are unavailable, or are incapacitated, a will may be admitted to probate upon the oath of the personal representative named in the will or the oath of any other person with no interest in the estate stating that he or she believes the document to be the true last will and testament of the decedent.
This process of proving a will can delay the probate process and increase the cost of administration for the decedent's family. Making sure that your will is self-proving now will save your family time and money later.
What are the requirements for a self-proving will in Florida?
To be a self-proving will in Florida, the will must first be executed in conformity with Florida Statute 732.502. Generally, the will must be signed:
a) By the testator (the person executing the will) or by someone in the testator's presence and at the testator's direction; and
b) By two subscribing witnesses in the presence of the testator and each other.
Second, the will must contain a self-proving affidavit.
Section 732.503 states the following affidavit ,or one substantially similar, needs to be included in any Florida will for the will to be considered a self proving will. The exact affidavit that needs to be included is as follows:
STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF ____________
I, , declare to the officer taking my acknowledgment of this instrument, and to the subscribing witnesses, that I signed this instrument as my will.
We, and , have been sworn by the officer signing below, and declare to that officer on our oaths that the testator declared the instrument to be the testator’s will and signed it in our presence and that we each signed the instrument as a witness in the presence of the testator and of each other.
Acknowledged and subscribed before me by the testator, (type or print testator’s name), who is personally known to me or who has produced (state type of identification—see s. 117.05(5)(b)2.) as identification, and sworn to and subscribed before me by the witnesses, (type or print name of first witness) who is personally known to me or who has produced (state type of identification—see s. 117.05(5)(b)2.) as identification and (type or print name of second witness) who is personally known to me or who has produced (state type of identification—see s. 117.05(5)(b)2.) as identification, and subscribed by me in the presence of the testator and the subscribing witnesses, all on (date).
Every estate plan is different. It’s best to talk to an estate planning attorney to make sure your estate plan effectively carries out your wishes after death and to ensure your will can be admitted to probate without requiring additional steps for your family.
Send me an email or give us a call if you'd like us to point you in the direction of a reliable Pensacola estate planning attorney. We will be happy to help.
Looking for guidance on the steps to take after a loved one dies in Florida?
If you have probate questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (850) 741-2999. Lauren A. Merritt, P.A. 111 S. De Villiers Street, Ste. B Pensacola, FL 32502