The Validity of Deathbed Wills

The Validity of Deathbed Wills

Individuals who believe they only have a short time to live might decide to create a new will before they pass away — colloquially referred to as a “deathbed will.” While this might not be the ideal situation for creating a thorough will, a document established in this manner can be just as valid as one created in an attorney’s office but  only if they are properly signed and witnessed.  An oral will or a handwritten will not witnessed, might be valid in some states, but not in Florida.

For a will to be valid in Florida it must meet either of these requirements:

  • It must be in writing, and signed at the end by the testator.
  • The testator must sign the will or acknowledge his or her signature on the will in the presence of two subscribing witnesses who must also sign the will as witnesses in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.
  • If the testator is unable to sign, he or she may direct another to sign for him or her, under some circumstances.

There are not any rules that govern where or when wills are to be prepared and signed. Many people put off creating an estate plan, so it’s somewhat common for a person who is either hospitalized or homebound to create a will out of a sense of urgency. Perhaps the person meant to prepare the will earlier but did not get it done, or perhaps he or she simply decided the time was right in the moment.

Regardless, if the will was executed according to the regulations set by the state, it is considered valid. The will does not need to be notarized — signatures from two witnesses are enough to make it legally binding. The witnesses do not actually have to read the will, as long as they understand the document to be the last will and testament of the creator.

For more information and guidance on determining the validity of a will, contact the experienced Tampa estate planning lawyers at BaumannKangas Estate Law.