Florida Statutes, Section 733.207: Establishment and Probate of Lost or Destroyed Will
When someone passes a way, their property is passed to others. If the decedent left a will, the will would provide instructions as to who should get which portions of his (or her) estate. However, before the decedent’s property can be transferred to others, the decedent’s will must go through a court proceeding called probate. Probate involves submitting the original will to the Florida circuit court. The judge will then review it and determine if it is valid. Unfortunately, there are instances in which a will cannot be submitted to the court because it was somehow lost or destroyed. If this happens the judge must decide whether or not to admit the lost or destroyed will to probate. If the will was indeed valid and there is proof of its validity and its contents, then under Florida Statutes, section 733.207- Establishment and probate of lost or destroyed will, the court will admit it to probate. To learn more about what Florida law requires in order to get a lost or destroyed will admitted to probate, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.Proving a will
Probate is the legal process that involves proving a will is authentic. Probate is usually initiated when the person named in the will as the personal representative submits the will to the circuit court along with a petition for probate. If the will is self-proving, then probate is typically relatively uncomplicated. In Florida, for a will to be self-proving the testator must first comply with the legal requirements to create a valid will. In addition to the testator signing the will in front of two witnesses who must also sign the will, the testator must also acknowledge the will before a notary using a statutory acknowledgement form. The statutory acknowledgement form has specific language before the notary’s attestation clause. The testator, his witnesses and the notary must declare the instrument as a self-proving will using the specific statutory language. Furthermore, all parties must sign it in front of one another and print their names on the self-proving affidavit. The affidavit must state that the two witnesses observed the testator sign the will. It must also state that the witnesses believe that the testator was of sound mind at the time he (or she) executed the will.
On the other hand, if the will is not self-proving, then the Florida Probate Code requires that the two witnesses testify in court under oath that they observed the testator sign the will and that they believed that the testator was not suffering from a mental incapacity at the time he signed the will.
Once the circuit court judge is satisfied that the will is valid, the judge will admit it to probate and the personal representative can move forward with administration.Establishment and Probate of Lost or Destroyed Will
Any interested person may establish the full and precise terms of a lost or destroyed will and offer the will for probate. The specific content of the will must be proved by the testimony of two disinterested witnesses, or, if a correct copy is provided, it shall be proved by one disinterested witness. For example, the original of a testator’s will was destroyed in an accidental fire. The two witnesses testify under oath what the will said and that the testator was of sound mind when he signed it. The court is likely to admit the will to probate based on the testimony of the two witnesses.Related Statutory Provisions
- Petition: § 733.202, Fla. Stat.
- Discovery of later will: § 733.208, Fla. Stat.
- Estates of missing persons: § 733.209, Fla. Stat.
- Notice of administration; filing of objections: § 733.212, Fla. Stat.
Any interested person may establish the full and precise terms of a lost or destroyed will and offer the will for probate. The specific content of the will must be proved by the testimony of two disinterested witnesses, or, if a correct copy is provided, it shall be proved by one disinterested witness.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If the will of a loved one was lost or accidentally destroyed, with the help of an experienced probate attorney, it is possible that it can still be probated as long as the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.207- Establishment and probate of lost or destroyed will, can be met. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We 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. We can help. Contact an attorney in our office at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.