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Who May Witness a Florida Will?

Last week, I needed another witness for the execution of a client’s will (Florida requires two witnesses).  I contacted the one witness, who said that he could bring an acquaintance, but that the acquaintance was a Canadian resident.  Although I didn’t foresee any issues with somebody who is not a U.S. resident witnessing a will, I figured I’d check up on the applicable law to be sure.  After all, I have seen plenty of mistakes that concern witnesses, or lack thereof, of wills.  For example, once I saw a will that was drafted by a non-Florida attorney for a Florida resident.  Although the will was notarized, it had no witnesses.  As I mentioned, Florida requires two witnesses, so this will was invalid.   I was furious at the non-Florida attorney who drafted it.

Anyway, Section 732.504(1), Florida Statutes, is clear that any person that is competent to be a witness may witness a will.  It provides no other restrictions (not even with regard to the age of a witness) and I was thus comfortable that a nonresident could witness the document.

Note that Section 732.504(2) adds that a signature by an interested witness does not invalidate the will. Thus, for example, a beneficiary’s signing of a will does not invalidate the will.  Again, though, I’ve seen all sorts of problems result and I automatically wonder about undue influence when beneficiaries act as witnesses, so this approach is not recommended.  In addition, the will may later be probated in another jurisdiction that may prohibit interested witnesses from witnessing a will.  As a result, the will could be invalidated in that jurisdiction.

 

Want to further discuss these issues?  Contact me at 954-944-3929 or nrumbak@rumbaklaw.com.

*This document contains legal information, but does not contain legal advice.

 

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