If I write up a will outlining my wishes, is there more I have to do? Does it have to follow a certain format or can I just write out a text document? Does it have to be notarized? Filed with the county or state? If not, how does anyone know it exists? Does it have to be filed yearly? What if I need to make changes?
Estate Planning Attorney
The minimum requirements to execute a will in Florida is that it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who also sign. At least one of the witnesses cannot be a blood relative. Florida does also allow for a self-proving affidavit in addition to the execution requiring the witnesses. The self-proving affidavit must be notarized and, if done correctly will prevent the need for the witnesses to prove the will at the time of probate. The will is not filed upon execution, rather it must be filed within 10 days of the testator's death. If you want to make changes to your will, you can do so by creating a codicil (amendment to a will). A codicil must be executed the same way as the will (signed in the presence of 2 witnesses who also sign). Keep in mind, there are legal and tax consequences to consider when doing a will, therefore it is not as simple as it may seem. If you have any further questions, I would be happy to discuss them with you for no charge. If you want assistance in preparing the will, we can discuss. In addition to a will, you should also consider executing a: Springing Power of Attorney, Living Will (not the same as a will), and a Designation of Health Care Surrogate.
Douglas R. Coenson, Esq.
Personal Injury Lawyer
It has to follow a certain format and it has to be properly executed. It does not have to be notarized, but it usually is because it makes the post-death proof of the will easier. It does not get filed anywhere until death. There is a criminal law requiring that it be filed after death -- but many go unfiled and are not discovered. You can make changes to it by replacing it or adding to it (with the proper formalities).
You need a lawyer to help you get it right. See the link below if you do not know of one.