Every state has a similar process for making a will, but there are differences that vary state-by-state. Each state has its own legal requirements for a will to be valid. To make an online will in Florida, you want to follow the specific statutes. You also want to be sure to use an online will that is customized for Florida.
Can I make a will online in Florida?
Here are the legal requirements for a will to be valid in Florida:
- The person writing the will (the Testator) must be at least 18 years of age or an emancipated minor.
- The Testator must be of sound mind and memory.
- The will must be in writing.
- The Testator must sign the will at the end (or the Testator’s name must be subscribed at the end of the will by another individual in the Testator’s presence and by the Testator’s direction).
- The will must be signed by at least two witnesses. The witnesses must see the Testator sign the will (or acknowledge their signature or the subscribed signature), and the person writing the will must see the witnesses sign it. The witnesses also have to sign it in each other’s presence.
The state of Florida allows electronic or digital-only wills. Digital-only wills are ones that are made, signed, and witnessed electronically. Florida allows wills to be signed using remote notarization and remote witnesses via video services. The Testator, witnesses, and notary do not have to be in the same physical location. The requirements for an electronic will to be valid in Florida are:
- It must be signed under the supervision of a notary public.
- It must be given to a “qualified custodian.”
A “qualified custodian” must be domiciled in and a resident of Florida or be an incorporated business in Florida. The custodian must employ a system for maintaining electronic records and store electronic records containing electronic wills under said system. The custodian must also maintain the audio-video recording of the notarization session.
Does Florida require a notarized will?
No, Florida does not require the will to be notarized for it to be considered valid. But having a notarized will can often help the probate court quickly validate the will. Florida allows wills to be “self-proved.” For a will to be “self-proved” in Florida, there is a separate document that gets notarized and is then attached to the will. The Testator and the witnesses sign an affidavit in front of a notary public. Once that is attached to the will, it is considered to be “self-proved” and the court will generally accept the will as valid without having to call the witnesses to testify.
Can I name an executor in Florida?
Yes, you can name an executor. An executor is someone who handles settling the estate and who ensures that the will is followed. If you make an online will in Florida, you can name someone as the executor. It is a good idea to pick someone who you know is trustworthy and organized—you want to make sure you discuss it with them before naming them as the executor. If you do not name someone as the executor, then the probate court will appoint someone.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Florida:
- The person must be at least 18 years of age and be physically as well as mentally capable of performing the assigned duties.
- The person cannot have been convicted of a felony.
- The person must be a Florida resident.
There is an exception if you want to name a nonresident as your executor—they must be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption. The married spouse of one of your relatives can also serve as an out-of-state executor. While you can choose an out-of-state executor, there are practical reasons to select someone who lives nearby. An executor may have to handle day-to-day matters pertaining to settling your estate for weeks or months.
Do I need an attorney to make a will in Florida?
No, you do not need an attorney to make a will in Florida. It is wise to consult an attorney—specifically an estate planning attorney—if your estate is very complex or if you want to include provisions that may not be enforceable (like disinheriting a spouse or child or including conditional requirements for inheritance). But in most cases, when your estate is simple and your will is straightforward, online will making is a good option. To make an online will in Florida, make sure you follow the legal requirements for a will to be valid. You also want to use an online will making service that has templates customized for the state.
What types of wills are valid in Florida?
Whether or not you make a will online, any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in Florida
Can I make a holographic will in Florida?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament signed only by the Testator with no witnesses. In Florida, holographic wills are not considered legally binding—wills must be in writing, signed at the end by the Testator, and signed by two witnesses. Since holographic wills are not recognized as valid in Florida, using a holographic will is the same as if you died without a will.
Can I make a nuncupative or video will in Florida?
An oral will is also known as an oral will, which some individuals wish to leave on video. Florida requires wills to be in written form for the will to be considered valid. As such, Florida will not recognize a nuncupative will. If you leave a nuncupative or video will in the state of Florida, it is the same as if you did not have a will at all.
How is a living will different from an online will in Florida?
A living will, also called an advance directive, is a legal document that details instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care should you become incapacitated. A living will and a last will and testament are two separate documents. You should not place medical directives or end-of-life care stipulations in your last will and testament. This is because a last will and testament is usually not read until after the funeral. If you leave such instructions in your last will and testament, your family might not know about your wishes until after your funeral.
Instead, you should leave these instructions in a living will (which you should give to the executor of your estate or to another trusted person).
You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online. For Florida, you can find the template for a living will here.
In Florida, the requirements for a living will to be valid are:
- It needs to be witnessed (and signed by) two individuals.
- At least one of the individuals cannot be a spouse or a blood relative.
The living will does not need to be notarized for it to be honored as long as it meets the above requirements.
Why do I need to make a will online in Florida?
Dying without a will, known as dying intestate, means that your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of Florida. It can be a lengthy legal process. In addition to the court appointing a guardian for any minor children and naming an executor, the estate will also be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Florida. Property held by the individual who died will often be held up in the probate court process for months at a time.
If you have no surviving family, then your property will escheat (or transfer) to the State of Florida. You can find the intestacy laws for Florida here.
If you want to decide how to disburse your estate, name guardians for any minor children, or name an executor, then you should make a will. Choosing to make an online will in Florida means you have more control over how your estate is distributed, and it is especially important to have a will if you have any minor children so that you can choose someone to be their guardian.
What can I include in an online will in Florida?
In addition to naming an executor and appointing guardians for any minor children, the following can be included when making a will online in Florida:
- Naming a trusted person to oversee any property left to minor children.
- Naming a trusted person to care for any pets.
- Leaving property or gifts to family or friends.
- Leaving property or gifts to charities or organizations.
- Distributing any family heirlooms and sentimental items.
- Distributing any personal or sentimental items.
What should not be included in a will in Florida?
Any medical directives or end-of-life care should not be left in a last will and testament. You also should not leave funeral instructions in a last will and testament. Funeral arrangements are typically made immediately after someone dies. And if you have any medical directives or end-of-life care wishes, they might not be known until after the funeral. This is because a will is not usually read until after the funeral.
For any medical directives or end-of-life care desires, you should create a living will.
For funeral directions, you can simply talk to a family member about your wishes. You can also make a separate document describing your wishes and give it to the executor of your estate (or any other trusted person).
Can I change or revoke an online will made in Florida?
A will is a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. However, as long as the Testator is living, the will can be changed or revoked.
In Florida, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- You can explicitly revoke a will in writing finalized according to the legal requirements of a will.
- You can revoke a non-electronic will by physically destroying it with the intent and purpose of revoking it, or you can order another person to physically destroy it in front of you.
- You can revoke an electronic will if you or another person in your presence and by your direction deletes, destroys, or otherwise obliterates the electronic will with the intent of revocation. You must show this through clear and convincing evidence.
- You can write a new will that explicitly states it revokes the old will or has contradictory terms to the old one in it.
Marriage, divorce, birth or adoption, acquisition of assets, or relocation—any major life change—is a good time to update a will. It is best to write and finalize a new will when updating it. But if you only want to make minor changes or additions, you can instead add an amendment called a codicil to your will. A codicil must be finalized the same way a will is finalized. If a codicil does not meet the requisite formalities, Florida law is very strict on it not being valid.
How do I finalize an online will in Florida?
After you make an online will in Florida, follow these steps to finalize it:
- Print out the document.
- Sign it at the end in front of two witnesses, and
- Have the two witnesses sign it in front of you and in each other’s presence.
In order to help the court quickly validate your will, attach a separate notarized affidavit (“self-proving affidavit”) to it.
Special considerations in Florida:
- Florida has protections for surviving spouses under Florida Homestead Property and The Florida spousal elective share. If you are separated but not legally divorced, your spouse is entitled to a portion of your estate.
- If you wish to disinherit an adult child, you must note that you have intentionally not included them in the will. It is very important that the wording is precise to limit the will from being successfully contested. You should consult an attorney if you plan on disinheriting an adult child.
USLegalWills is our recommendation for an online last will and testament. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy. You can also create a Living Will. USLegalWills offers a free service to document funeral wishes and save final messages for loved ones.