Overview Of Self-Proving Affidavits For Florida Wills
Most people are aware that a testator (the person who is making the will) must be of sound mind and body to create a will, but there are many other legal criteria that must be met to ensure it is legal. One important requirement relates to signing and having other witnesses observe the execution of the will. This offers protection against misconduct, but it can also lead to unintended results. Years later, the witnesses could be called to court to testify regarding their observations and the validity of the will. For this reason, Florida allows self-proof of a will. The process makes it unnecessary to authenticate it in probate court, barring any other legal issues that might impact the validity of the document.
A will that complies with the self-proving provisions reduces time in court, but mistakes can thwart the cost savings. When you retain a Dade City wills and estate planning lawyer for assistance, you can rest assured the proper documentation will accompany your will as self-proof. Some basics are also informative.
What a Self-Proving Affidavit Does: Anyone can go to the courthouse and file a will, but the probate judge overseeing estate administration does not know that it is valid. The court needs some authentication, and the most logical source to turn to is the witnesses who observed the testator sign. The basic requirement is that two people must witness the signing of the will, in the presence of the testator and each other.
The self-proving affidavit eliminates the requirement to have the witnesses testify in court, because the document itself acts as testimony. The judge can accept the will into probate and proceed with estate administration as long as it contains the following statements:
- The witnesses acknowledge the physical presence of the testator; and,
- The testator is either personally known to the witness OR presented ID.
In the case of a digital will, the witnesses can acknowledge the testator via online notarization, which is now allowed by Florida law.
Wills with No Self-Proving Affidavit: There are two common scenarios where you may encounter a will that does not include a self-proving affidavit:
- The will was prepared in a state that does not require or allow self-proof of wills, but the testator was a resident of Florida at the time of death.
- The person found will forms online or used a free service to prepare a will, and it did not include one.
If you are named as the executor in a will with no self-proving affidavit, it is important to get legal help with the next steps. You will need to track down a witness and obtain a sworn statement regarding the circumstances of executing the will.
Set Up a Consultation with a Florida Wills and Estate Planning Attorney Today
Our team at The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane will handle the self-proving affidavit for your will, and we can guide you with other estate planning options. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help. You can reach our firm to schedule a consultation by calling 352-567-0055 or completing an online form.