What makes a will legal?
A will is legal and valid if it’s been executed with the formalities required of the Florida Probate Code. These formalities require that the grantor, or the person executing the will, needs to sign at the end of the will document. The signature must be made in the presence of 2 witnesses. And these two witnesses must sign the will in each other’s presence. Florida law does not preclude beneficiaries from acting as witnesses. But it can be better if a non-beneficiary acts as a witness to avoid claims that the beneficiary witness improperly influenced the testator.
These requirements of Florida law regarding wills means that certain types of wills are not valid in Florida. For example, a “holographic will” is a will that is handwritten without any witnesses. Another example of a will that is invalid in Florida is a “nuncupative will.” This is a type of will that is made verbally in the presence of witnesses.
If a Florida resident dies without a valid will, that person is considered to have died “intestate.” That person’s estate will be distributed by the probate court according to Florida law. Generally, that means that the estate will be divided among the decedent’s closest relatives according to a formula in the statutes. When a person dies intestate and has a surviving spouse and has no children or only children with that surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will receive the entire estate.