A dispute between aunt-nephew over the validity of their father-grandfather’s half-signed will has resulted in a Florida appellate court ruling affirming state law mandating wills strictly adhere to all statutory requirements – or else they’ll likely be deemed invalid. The case underscores a point of critical importance when planning your estate: Have an estate planning lawyer help you. Otherwise, you may leave loved ones with little choice but to pursue probate litigation.
There are a lot of areas of state law that allow a fair amount of judicial discretion. Florida will execution is one area where judges don’t have a lot of wiggle room.
Wills that do not strictly comply with Fla. Stat. § 732.502(1) or other provisions of that statute will likely be deemed void. There has been ample case law on this issue because disputes have arisen on almost every detail:
- “Can a will be signed with a mark rather than a signature?” (Yes.)
- “Does the testator’s signature need to be on every single page of the will?” (No.)
- “Does it matter in which order the witnesses sign the will?” (No.)