Florida Probate Statute 733.201: Proof of Wills
Probate is the legal process of proving that a will is authentic and reflects the wishes of the testator. To prevent fraudulent wills from being probated and to ensure that the testator’s assets go to the correct beneficiaries, Florida law requires that a will be proven before allowing it to be the basis for the administration of an estate. Once a will is proved it is considered a valid legal document not only for purposes of the administration of the decedent’s estate, but also for other legal purposes. If you are an interested party in the administration of an estate, it is important that you understand what is required to probate a will in Florida, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.201- Proof of wills, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.Requirements for a Valid Will in Florida
In Florida, a will must be properly executed for it to be valid. The execution requirements include that it must be signed by the testator, there must be two witnesses present when the testator signs it, and the two witnesses must also sign the will.Proof of Wills
Before the probate court will admit a will to probate, it must be authenticated. According to FL. Stat, section 733.201- Proof of wills, self-proved wills executed in accordance with this code may be admitted to probate without further proof. For a will to be self-proving, it must be executed in a specific manner. An affidavit needs to be included in any Florida will for the will to be considered a self proving will. The affidavit must state that the testator acknowledges that that he (or she) signed the instrument and that that the instrument signed was his will. The affidavit must also state acknowledgements by the witnesses that the testator declared the instrument to be the testator’s will and signed it in their presence and that each witness signed the instrument as a witness in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.
If the will is not self-proving, FL. Stat, section 733.201- Proof of wills provides that the will can be admitted to probate upon the oath of any of the attesting witness taken before any circuit court judge, commissioner appointed by the court, or clerk.
As an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate attorney will explain, if none of the attesting witnesses can be found, if none are available because of incapacity, or if their testimony cannot be obtained within a reasonable time, then the personal representative named in the will can attest to the authenticity of the will.Absence of a Will
A will is arguably the most important part of an estate plan as it is the only way for someone to ensure that none or his (or her ) your property is subject to distribution based on Florida’s intestate succession statute. Florida intestate succession law defines who would be entitled to receive a decedent’s probate property in the absence of a valid will. In other words, if you do not write a will, Florida will write one for you without your input. Under intestate succession your estate will be distributed as follows:
- Surviving spouse and children: If you have a surviving spouse and children, your surviving spouse will get 50% of your estate and your children will share in the other 50%
- Surviving spouse and on children: If you have a surviving spouse, but no children, your surviving spouse will get 100% of your estate
- Children and no surviving spouse: If you have children, but no surviving spouse, your children will share in 100% of your estate
Grandchildren will receive the inheritance of any child who dies before you.
As a probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale will explain, in the absence of a surviving spouse and children or grandchildren, the sets forth which of your other relatives will inherit your property such as your siblings, parents, and grandparents.Related Statutory Provisions
- Self-proof of will : § 732.503, Fla. Stat.
- Probate of notarial will : § 733.205, Fla. Stat.
- Probate of will of resident after foreign probate : § 733.206, Fla. Stat.
- Establishment and probate of lost or destroyed will : § 733.207, Fla. Stat.
- Discovery of later will : § 733.208, Fla. Stat.
(1) Self-proved wills executed in accordance with this code may be admitted to probate without further proof.
(2) A will may be admitted to probate upon the oath of any attesting witness taken before any circuit judge, commissioner appointed by the court, or clerk.
(3) If it appears to the court that the attesting witnesses cannot be found or that they have become incapacitated after the execution of the will or their testimony cannot be obtained within a reasonable time, a will may be admitted to probate upon the oath of the personal representative nominated by the will as provided in subsection (2), whether or not the nominated personal representative is interested in the estate, or upon the oath of any person having no interest in the estate under the will stating that the person believes the writing exhibited to be the true last will of the decedent.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you questions about the authenticity of a will, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced probate attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 20 years of experience representing clients in matters related to settling estates, estate litigation, disputes with creditors, and understand the intricacies of the Florida Probate Code. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.