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Is a video will, an oral direction making a descendant an executor, and an unsigned will all considered legal in Florida?

Melbourne, FL |

A woman passed away & left a video that discusses who should receive personal items. This video was made while she was in a hospital with two of her adult children present but no lawyer or doctor. A month later, the parent was determined to be terminal & placed in the care of Hospice. A paralegal was sent by Hospice later on and a will was drawn up according to the parent's wishes, but when it came time to finalize and sign the will, the parent said they never stated these things and turned the paralegal away, so it was never finalized. One child was told to be in charge, but no one is sure if anything this sibling has is in fact legal and now the deceased parent is due a SS settlement, which SS stated all her children will receive if there is no will. Are these considered legal in FL

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    Unsigned wills and oral directions are not recognized methods of distributing property. There is such a thing as a video will, but not in Florida, in Florida all wills have to be in writing. And I would strongly advise that you never have a paralegal prepare a will for you. That would normally be the unlicensed practice of law, and you are likely to get a will that causes more problems than it solves. This is why people should visit an actual lawyer. Sometimes fear that something will cost too much prevents people from even researching the issue until it is too late and the problem they wanted to solve is irremediable.

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  2. I agree with everything Attorney Morcroft said. It doesn't sound to me like there is a will here at all and that the woman passed away with no will. The state then makes a will for her as she is said to have died intestate (her property goes to her family). I strongly recommend one or all of her children hire an attorney to probate the woman's estate.

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  3. I seldom use a video will and only because the client insists on explaining why he/she is distributing the estate in a certain way. My advice is not to put information on tape that could lead to disagreement and could be disputed as not true.
    A video will by itself has no value as an estate plan and a unsigned will also has no value.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.

  4. I agree with all three answers. If there is no written and properly executed will, then the laws of intestate succession will apply. Any of, or a group of, the children can ask the court to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate.
    If the amount of "personal items" is not significant, perhaps the beneficiaries can agree to follow the stated intent in the video. Also, if some feel the parents (based on the video) did not want them to receive the SS settlement, they should be able to redirect it to the other siblings.
    Of course, this has become much more complicated than it should have been by not hiring an attorney early on to establish a legal will when the parent was in a good state of mind.

    Don't forget to select a favorite answer. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney to fully explain your situation and have your rights fully explained to you.

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