Every state has its own estate planning laws. Sometimes, laws in several states may be relevant to a specific estate, such as if a Florida resident is executing an estate plan but owns several properties in other states or countries. One of the most common documents of the planning process is a last will and testament. It is helpful to gain an understanding of applicable laws regarding this document before signing a will.
Most people use a last will and testament to name their heirs, as well as any other beneficiaries they want to inherit their assets. If the testator (person signing a will) has children, he or she may also wish to designate someone as a legal guardian if they are still minors when the testator dies or becomes incapacitated. A will can also include the name of the person the testator wishes to serve as his or her executor when the time comes to administer the estate.
In Florida, you must be 18 or older to execute a will
No one under age 18 can execute a last will and testament unless they are an emancipated minor. Another requirement deals with testamentary capacity. This is more commonly referred to as soundness of mind. If person is not of sound mind, either because of mental illness, the aging process or a health condition, then he or she cannot create a valid will. To be of sound mind means that the testator understands the value of his or her estate, can make reasonable decisions and understands the purpose and implications of signing a will.
At least two competent witnesses must be present when a person signs a last will and testament in Florida. All witnesses and the testator must be present when each person signs the document. Also, a testator must execute a will without duress, meaning no one is coercing or forcing the signature. While there are online resources to help a person create his or her own will, it is always best to seek the guidance and support of an estate planning attorney to avoid legal complications.