Moving to a new state can often times be a stressful and exhausting process that takes careful planning. It is important to remember to visit a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer during the planning process to review your Florida Will. A common misconception of many people moving to Florida is that their out-of-state will is no longer valid once they arrive. A will signed by a non-resident of Florida is valid in Florida so long as the will complies with Florida statutory formalities and was valid in the state where the will was signed.
Contrary to other states, a Florida Will must be in writing in order to be considered valid. This means that verbal wills, or “deathbed” wishes, are not legally binding. Due to the fact that handwritten, or holographic wills, have the potential for forgery they are not valid in Florida either. NOTE: a holographic will is valid in FL if it complies with the statute of wills.
In Florida, an out-of-state will may be valid but unless it is distinctly drafted the provisions could be ineffective. For example, if you had named a friend as guardian of your minor children from your prior hometown before moving to Florida, this person probably will not be qualified under Florida statute to serve as guardian. Florida law requires that only a Florida resident, or close blood relative that resides out of state may serve as guardian.
Another consideration that should be observed when someone moves to Florida with an out-of-state Will is having to defend the will with out of state witnesses. Plane tickets and overnight stays could become costly for your estate. While these are just a few examples of how an out-of-state will can be valid and effective, it is our belief that a new Florida resident should plan to consult with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer or Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to ensure their documents conform to Florida law and will accomplish your goals.