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Estate and Elder Law

HOW You Sign a Will Can Be Just as Important as What It Says

I have written in the past about the dangers of "do it yourself" wills.  I have pointed out all of the traps for the unwary regarding Homestead, the Surviving Spouse, and Pretermitted Heirs.  One thing I haven't written about is the danger of improperly signing the document.  If the proper procedure is not followed, it does not matter how good the Will is, and it does not matter what the signer's intent was.  An improperly signed Will is invalid, and the estate passes through the laws of intestacy.
(Like always, this post only covers the law of Florida.  The laws in other states may vary).
In Florida, the laws regarding the execution of Wills is covered by Florida Statute 732.502.  Under the statute, every will must:
  1. Be in Writing;
  2. Signed by the testator, or if the testator is unable to sign (say due to paralysis), signed by some other person in the testator's presence and at his direction;
  3. The Will must be signed in the presence of two witness who are also in the presence of each other.