A guide to Florida probate laws.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor, if they are of “sound mind,” can write a will in Florida.
Every will must be signed by two witnesses. Additionally, the two witnesses must sign the will together in the presence of the testator.
Yes, but there is precedence for contesting the will if you use an interested witness, since it might be found that they had undue influence on the testator.
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Cannot be a convicted felon, or mentally or physically unable to perform duties
Out-of-state executors are allowed in certain circumstances, such as when they are related to the testator
In Florida, handwritten wills are only valid if they are properly witnessed. While a will made in another state is valid in Florida if it follows the other state’s laws, holographic wills from other states are not recognized in Florida even if the other state allows them.
No, Florida is not a community property state.
In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.
In Florida, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate based on the laws of intestate succession.
This is how much a surviving spouse receives in a few different circumstances:
|If the decedent is survived by a spouse and:||Surviving spouse's share|
|Children from the surviving spouse||Everything|
|Children who are not descendants of the surviving spouse||1/2 of the intestate estate|
|Children from the surviving spouse, and stepchildren (surviving spouse's children only)||1/2 of the intestate estate|
Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order.
Children, or their children
Siblings of the decedent, or their children
Grandparents, or uncles and aunts
Descendants of a predeceased spouse
Descendants of any great-grandparent if they were victims of the Holocaust
For someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share typically passes to their children by a per stirpes designation.
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After the testator dies, the will must be filed within ten days of knowledge of the death, at the circuit court in the county where the decedent lived.
In Florida, summary probate is allowed when the estate value is less than $75,000, less any creditor judgements, or if it has been more than two years since the decedent died.
Additionally, formal administration may not be needed when there is no real property, and the decedent’s estate includes only the following assets: two vehicles, household furnishings less than $20,000 in value, personal assets less than $1,000 in value, qualified tuition funds, and teacher benefits.
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Elissa Suh is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has researched and written extensively about finance and insurance since 2019, with an emphasis in esate planning and mortgages. Her writing has been cited by MarketWatch, CNBC, and Betterment.
Elissa has a B.A. in Film Studies from Barnard College.
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