Under Florida Statute 732.901, any document purporting to be a last will must be filed with the clerk of court within 10 days after receiving notice that the testator (creator of the will) is dead. Even if you believe that the will is invalid or procured by undue influence, Florida law still requires that the custodian of the will deposit the will with the court. Whether filed in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach, it is up to the probate judge to decide if the will is valid for probate.
Florida Statute 732.502 sets forth the requirements for a will to be valid. Any document attempting to devise the property of a deceased person after his or her death must be executed or signed by the testator in the presence of two attesting witnesses. You must properly prove this execution so that the probate judge is satisfied. This often involves additional court proceedings and having the witness actually take oaths in front of the presiding judge.
The simplest way to prove proper execution of a will in Florida is by utilizing a self-proving affidavit. Florida Statute 733.201 states that self-proved wills may be admitted to probate without further proof. The self-proving affidavit, defined by Florida Statute 732.503, must be attached to the will. It states that the will was signed by the two witnesses in the presence of the testator, who also signed the affidavit. This affidavit must be notarized by a notary public who takes this sworn statement from the witnesses and from the testator. The self-proving affidavit must specifically contain the aforementioned items or the will won’t be admitted to probate. Without a self-proving affidavit, a witness to the will execution must take an oath before the circuit judge at the testator’s death that the will was properly executed, or if that is not feasible, then the personal representative must take the oath. Either way, it is a burdensome process.
If you live in the West Palm, Broward, or Miami-Dade area and believe that a friend or relative’s will was improperly admitted into probate, the probate litigation team at Chepenik Trushin will help you obtain the proper legal relief. Please feel free to contact us for an initial first consultation.