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Moving to Florida: Do I Need a New Will?

There are several reasons why you should have a new will drafted when you establish residency in Florida. The most important reason is that, in order to be valid in Florida, your will must have been executed in strict compliance with Florida’s requirements for the execution of a will. There are only two methods by which a will is considered validly executed in Florida. One method is that the will has a self-proving affidavit. A self-proved will may be admitted to probate without further proof of its execution. The other method is that the will must have been signed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary, all of whom must sign the will in the presence of one another.

If your out of state will does not have a self-proving affidavit, at least one of the witnesses will have to be found to attest to the fact that they witnessed you signing your will. Trying to track down a witness causes delay and expense in the probate process. Without a witness or a self-proving affidavit, the will is invalid and your property will pass according to Florida’s intestate succession laws without regard to your wishes.

Another important reason for drafting a new will upon relocating to Florida is Florida’s homestead laws. Florida’s homestead laws restrict a homeowner’s ability to designate who will receive his homestead (generally speaking, his full-time residence and any adjoining land) upon his death. If the homeowner is married or has a minor child, the homestead can pass only to the surviving spouse unless the spouse has waived her homestead rights in the property. If there are no minor children or a surviving spouse, then the homeowner may designate anyone of his choice to receive the property upon his death. Whatever the case, a will drafted in another state likely did not take Florida’s homestead protections into account, and could result in a different distribution of your property than you had planned.

Another reason to draft a new will upon moving to Florida is Florida’s laws designating who can serve as the personal representative of an estate. The personal representative (often referred to as the executor) of an estate in Florida must be either a relative or a Florida resident. If the personal representative designated in your current will does not meet Florida’s qualifications, the court will appoint a personal representative. This may or may not be someone you know. Having a personal representative you know better assures that your property will be distributed according to your wishes.

In sum, there are many important reasons to have a new will drafted when you move to Florida. You want your property to pass according to your wishes with as little expense to your estate as possible. Call The Edwards Law Firm today to obtain a new will that complies with the requirements of Florida law.

Need to discuss your estate and probate needs? Contact our team today.

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