How to Make a Will in Florida
How to make a will in Florida and what can happen if you don't.
Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021

Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021

4.6 Ratings

Downloadable

Windows or Mac

$99.99

Add to CartLearn More

Making a Will in Florida

Learn how to write a will in Florida, and what can happen if you don't have one.

Steps to Create a Will in Florida

Here's a quick checklist for making a will in Florida:

  1. Decide what property to include in your will.
  2. Decide who will inherit your property.
  3. Choose an executor to handle your estate.
  4. Choose a guardian for your children.
  5. Choose someone to manage children's property.
  6. Make your will.
  7. Sign your will in front of witnesses.
  8. Store your will safely.

Why Should I Make a Florida Will?

A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:

  • leave your property to people or organizations
  • name a personal guardian to care for your minor children
  • name a trusted person to manage property you leave to minor children, and
  • name a personal representative, the person who makes sure that the terms of your will are carried out.

What Happens If I Don't Have a Will?

In Florida, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Florida's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and your spouse's relatives. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will in Florida?

No. You can make your own will in Florida, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should talk with an attorney. Nolo's will-making products tell you when it's wise to seek a lawyer's advice.

What Are the Requirements for Making a Will in Florida?

To make a will in Florida, you must be:

  • 18 years of age or older (or an emancipated minor), and
  • of sound mind.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.501.

Florida does not recognize nuncupative (oral) or holographic (handwritten) wills that are not witnessed. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.502.

Traditionally, wills in Florida have been made on hard copy on actual paper. However, Florida now allows wills to be in a digital format. (See "Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?," below.)

How Do I Sign My Florida Will?

To finalize your will in Florida:

  • you must sign your will or acknowledge it in front of two witnesses, and
  • your witnesses must sign your will in front of you and each other. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.502.

Specifically, you must sign at the end of your will. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.502.

While Florida law allows an "interested person" who stands to inherit under your will to serve as a witness, it's usually not a good idea. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.504.

Do I Need to Have My Will Notarized?

No, in Florida, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.

However, Florida allows you to make your will "self-proving" and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will. You can do this at the time of signing your will or later. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.503.

Should My Will Name a Personal Representative?

Yes. In Florida, you can use your will to name a personal representative who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust produces a letter to your personal representative that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name a personal representative, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.

Can I Revoke or Change My Will?

In Florida, you may revoke or change your will at any time. You can revoke your will by:

  • burning, tearing, canceling, defacing, obliterating, or destroying your will yourself with the intent to revoke it
  • instructing someone else to do any of the acts listed above in front of you, or
  • making a new will or codicil that says it revokes the prior one or includes contradictory terms. Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 732.505 and 506.

If you need to make changes to your will, it's best to revoke it and make a new one. However, if you have only very simple changes to make, you could add an amendment to your existing will – this is called a codicil. In either case, you will need to finalize your changes with the same formalities you used to make your original will (see above).

If you and your spouse divorce (or if a court determines that your marriage is not legal), Florida law revokes any language in your will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse to be your personal representative. This rule does not apply if you specifically state in your will (or divorce decree) that divorce should not affect the provisions in your will. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.507. If you have any concerns about the effects of divorce on your will, see an estate planning attorney for help.

Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will

In a few states, you can make a legal will digitally – that is, you can make the will, sign it, and have it witnessed without ever printing it out. Such electronic wills are currently available in only a minority of states, but Florida is one of these states.

Under Florida's law, electronic wills are valid if they meet all of the necessary requirements. (Fla. Stat. § 732.521.) These requirements include:

  • you and your witnesses sign the will. An electronic signature is valid.
  • a notary supervises the process.
  • you state the document you are signing is your will and the witnesses hear this.
  • the notary verifies your witnesses' identities. (Fla. Stat. § 732.522.)

The law allows remote online witnessing and notarization of wills via real-time, two-way audio-video communication.

Notably, Florida has built into its laws a protection for vulnerable adults. If remote witnessing is used, the will maker must answer questions about whether the will maker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, has a long-term disability that impairs daily living, or requires assistance with daily care. If the will maker answers yes to any of the questions, then the will ceremony must stop, and remote online witnessing is not an available option. (Fla. Stat. § 117.285.) An e-will can be self-proving in Florida only if it meets several requirements surrounding a qualified custodian, including keeping the will in a secure system so that it cannot be altered. (Fla. Stat. § 733.524.)

Where Can I Find Florida's Laws About Making Wills?

You can find Florida's laws about making wills here: Florida Statutes Title XLII Estates and Trusts Chapter 732 Probate Code Intestate Succession and Wills.

Ready to create your will?

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to an Estate Planning attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you