If a person dies in Florida with a will drafted in other jurisdictions, the court will determine whether the will is valid based on statutory rules. Depending on the circumstances, a foreign will may not be able to be probated within state jurisdiction.
In this article, you will find out a full overview of how a foreign will is administered under Florida law.
Determining the Validity of a Foreign Will in Florida
The term “foreign will” refers to a will executed in another state.
According to Florida Statutes §732.502 (2), “any will (…) executed by a nonresident of Florida, either before or after this law takes effect, is valid as a will in this state if valid under the laws of the state or country where the will was executed.”
This statute applies to any foreign will other than a holographic (handwritten) or nuncupative (orally expressed) will.
Please note that the same statute adds that “a will in the testator’s handwriting that has been executed in accordance with subsection (1) shall not be considered a holographic will.”
Subsection (1) of Florida Statutes §732.502 requires that a will must be signed by the testator (person who wrote the will) at the end of the document. If the testator is not able to do so, “the testator’s name must be subscribed at the end of the will by some other person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction.”
Florida Statutes §732.502 (1)(b) requires that “the testator’s signing, or acknowledgment that he or she has previously signed the will, or that another person has subscribed the testator’s name to it, must be in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses.”
Subsequently, the witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other.
Foreign Will Administration in Florida – Anticipating Potential Issues
If a person dies in Florida with a will conveying property located in another jurisdiction, it may result in a complex and time-consuming probate process for the decedent’s heirs. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to file for probate at the same time in distinct jurisdictions (ancillary administration).
The first step to prevent this type of issue is updating a will. Upon moving to Florida, individuals who already have wills in place must identify whether the document was properly executed.
If applicable, it is crucial to designate a different person to serve as a personal representative in Florida probate. Having an in-state resident named as executor in a will is a slight but vital amendment that will prevent many procedural difficulties in the future.
Foreign Will Administration in Florida – Seek Expert Legal Guidance
The best approach for individuals moving to Florida is consulting with an expert attorney to draft a well-designed estate plan. With an estate plan in place, it is possible to convey property located out of Florida out of a will upon death.
In many cases, it is possible to avoid probate altogether, which is an excellent way to protect your loved ones from stressful and costly proceedings involved in ancillary administration.