When a client comes in to our office and brings a will for probate, they have confidence that it can easily be filed and used in the probate. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Just because a will was prepared and signed, doesn’t mean it meets the Florida Statute requirements to be admitted to the Court. Florida Statute 732.503 states that a will should be self-proved. What does self-proving mean?
In addition to the will being signed and dated by the testator, the person whose will it is, an acknowledgment should be prepared and signed by the testator and affidavits of the witnesses. The Statute provides the following suggested form:
STATE OF FLORIDA
I, (name of Testator), declare to the officer taking my acknowledgment of this instrument, and to the subscribing witnesses, that I signed this instrument as my will.
Signature of Testator
We, (name of witness) and (name of witness), have been sworn by the officer signing below, and declare to that officer on our oaths that the testator declared the instrument to be the testator’s will and signed it in our presence and that we each signed the instrument as a witness in the presence of the testator and of each other.
Signature of Witness
Signature of Witness
Acknowledged and subscribed before me by the testator, (testator’s name), who is personally known to me or who has produced (state type of identification—see s. 117.05(5)(b)2.) as identification, and sworn to and subscribed before me by the witnesses, (type or print name of first witness) who is personally known to me or who has produced (state type of identification—see s. 117.05(5)(b)2.) as identification and (type or print name of second witness) who is personally known to me or who has produced (state type of identification—see s. 117.05(5)(b)2.) as identification, and subscribed by me in the presence of the testator and the subscribing witnesses, all on (enter date).
(Signature of Notary )
(Print, type, or stamp commissioned name and affix official seal)
If a will includes the above acknowledgment it is considered self proving and in most cases can be admitted into the probate without necessity of any further proof. Everyone involved will be grateful for it. But what happens when this wasn’t done, perhaps out of ignorance, or maybe the will was prepared in a different state where this is not a requirement? That will be discussed in a future blog.