Although your parents have for years been telling you (and anyone else who will listen) that they are leaving their home to you, if they don’t put their words in writing, you WILL NOT get their home upon their death. In Florida, Wills Must Be in Writing, the Florida Statutes are clear about this. If someone dies and has not left a writing evidencing wishes as to how his/her belongings are to be distributed, then the estate is distributed according to the Intestacy statute.
In the Florida case In Estate of Corbin v. Sherman, the First District Court of Appeal considered a written will which contained the following language,”I give, bequeath and devise all of my estate of whatsoever kind and nature to Betty Sherman to dispose of as she has been instructed to do by me”.
The Court concluded that the language in this clause, “clearly attempts to devise the decedent’s property to Ms. Sherman for Sherman to distribute according to oral instructions from the decedent.” As Florida does not recognize oral wills, the court likewise, invalidated this Will.
Every Florida Will must be in writing. It must be signed by the Testator (the person making the Will) at the end of the will. The Testator must sign his/her Will in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must sign the Will in front of the Testator and in the presence of one another. Florida is one of the majority of states that has adopted a self proving affidavit procedure. It is recommended by a Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney that every Florida Will include a “Self Proving Affidavit”. This procedure is when the testator and the witnesses after executing the will, execute in front of a notary public an affidavit reciting that all of the requisites for due execution of the will have been complied with. This allows the will to be probated in the Florida Courts even if the witnesses are dead, cannot be located, or have moved far away.
It is certain in Florida that if your parents do not put their oral statements about leaving you their home in writing, you will be sharing their home with all your siblings pursuant to the intestacy laws. Don’t wait until it is too late.
Having a Will prepared is an easy task. Once you have contacted a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer, all that is needed is some basic information as to what your assets are, and how you wish to distribute them upon your death, and your will can be prepared. Once your Will is ready, you come into the office and sign your Will in front of witnesses. Knowing that an experienced attorney has not only prepared your will, but has ensured that you execute your will pursuant to Florida law, is a great comfort.