If you want to revoke a will in Florida, you should know that only specific methods will be valid. Even simply executing a new will doesn’t guarantee the old one will be revoked.
With the help of a Florida estate planning attorney, you can revoke or change effectively and make it legally binding. Here’s how to revoke a will in Florida:
Why You Might Want to Revoke Your Will in Florida?
Despite being called a ‘Last Will’, a will you drafted earlier in your life may in fact not be your last one.
With age and time, goals and circumstances change. Changes in your life may mean that it’s wise to make will changes so your assets and heirs are protected.
Common reasons for revoking a Will in Florida include:
- Changes in your family tree, such as marriages, births, deaths and divorces.
- A beneficiary passing away before you
- Separation of a shared business
- The sale of assets
- New asset acquisitions
- The end of friendships and relationships
How to Change a Will in Florida?
You can make some changes to a will in Florida by adding a codicil (a legal document that makes an amendment without revoking it in full).
But in many cases, it’s wiser to replace your will entirely.
How to Revoke a Will in Florida?
Simply executing a new will, doesn’t guarantee the old one is revoked. If not appropriately revoked, the old will can still be active alongside a new one.
The best thing to do is to contact a Florida estate planning attorney.
Operation of Law
A will may be revoked by ‘operation of law’. This is when a will becomes legally invalid. This can occur without you taking any direct action – for example, if a spouse named in your will divorces you, then they will be excluded as a matter of law.
This, however, isn’t action you can really take yourself, so let’s get into affirmative actions that you can take to revoke a will:
Revocation By Writing
A person may revoke a will in Florida by writing, under Florida Statutes §732.505.
This can be done in two ways;
The first, “By a subsequent inconsistent will or codicil, even though the subsequent inconsistent will or codicil does not expressly revoke all previous wills or codicils, but the revocation extends only so far as the inconsistency.”
Put simply; this means any later-executed will or codicil can override any previous will.
However, it’s important to know that this type of revocation by writing doesn’t guarantee the full revocation of an existing will.
Instead, the probate court will reconcile the new and old wills to the best possible extent.
Sections of the existing, older will that can’t be reconciled with the one will be revoked. This may result in a hybrid will of the older and new documents.
The second type of revocation by writing is more reliable for replacing an old will with a new one.
Florida law describes it as: “a subsequent will, or codicil, or other writing executed with the same formalities required by the execution of wills declaring the revocation.”
Your Florida estate planning lawyer can draft your new will with opening lines such as ‘hereby revoking and existing former wills”.
Doing so can make the old wills invalid and remove complications.
How to Make it Legally Binding?
Please note, the wording must be precise and relevant to your will. A Florida estate planning attorney should always oversee the process and various requirements must be full-filled for these changes to be valid.
Courts will also only accept writing that is ‘executed with the same formalities required for the execution of wills’.
So, any document or declaration attempting to revoke a will must be signed by the testator, with a proper witness.
You cannot cross outlines, add odd words or notate a will.
Attempting or making declarations without an attorney will leave things to chance – no one will know the outcome until after your death. That’s why you should guarantee your will is valid with the help of a Florida estate planning attorney.
Revocation By Act
Under Florida Statute §732.506, some physical acts can be used to revoke a will in Florida.
The statute states a will is revoked if “the testator, or some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction, by burning, tearing, canceling, defacing, obliterating, or destroying it with the intent, and for the purpose, of revocation.”
An electronic will is revoked when “the testator, or some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction, by deleting, canceling, rendering unreadable, or obliterating the electronic will or codicil, with the intent, and for the purpose, of revocation, as proved by clear and convincing evidence.
How to Revoke a Will in Florida by Act Legally?
This may sound simple enough, but there are various ways you can revoke by acting incorrectly.
Firstly, it must be made clear that you destroyed the will intentionally.
If you destroy it and later pass away, with no evidence of the intention, it can be very difficult to prove whether how and why the will was destroyed. How will anyone know whether it was lost or stolen?
Additionally, the act must be performed by either the testator or an individual acting for the testator while in their presence. Even if you ask a family member to burn the document, they must do so in your presence.
Once again, these facts can be tough to prove. Even the amount of destruction can leave questions to arise.
What To Do If You Want to Revoke a Will in Florida?
The best thing to do is – talk to an estate planning attorney.
A lawyer will allow you to not only decide the best method of revocation, but also ensure the old will is truly revoked and the new one is valid.
There are so many ways this can go wrong. For example, one family member flushed a will down the toilet but because the decedent wasn’t in the room, it wasn’t legally binding.
The earlier you receive legal guidance, the better. If you add a page to your will, or you burn it – it doesn’t guarantee anything. You must follow the Florida statute and the expectation of the courts. An experienced Florida estate planning attorney will help you do that.
Alternatively, if you believe your inheritance rights have been violated you may be able to file a petition for a will contest.
This will request the court to revoke or deem the Will invalid. Common reasons for valid will contests include fraud, coercion or undue influence.
To make a will contest, you should contact a Florida Will contest attorney.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
If you want to revoke a will in Florida, you should contact a Florida estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to make a legally binding new will, without making a costly mistake that puts your estate planning goals at risk.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they can help you start and complete the will relocation process.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.