Planning for your death isn't exactly at the top of anyone's to-do list. However, we all know how important creating a will, trust or other document, which lays out what will happen to your estate and assets in the event of your death, can be to your loved ones. You want to make sure that your family is provided for and avoid potentially lengthy disputes over assets with a well written will.
In Florida, the law surrounding wills and trusts can be complicated. While you may set out what you consider to be comprehensive terms describing how your assets should be distributed in the event of your death, there may be mistakes, changes in circumstances or other factors which require a will to be modified in the future. Read on for more information about the law of will modification in Florida.
Wills May Be Modified While the Author is Still Alive
Under Florida law, wills may be modified while the author is still alive. While this may sound straightforward, modification must meet certain legal thresholds for form and substance. For example, Florida law does not allow for modification of a will by crossing out lines on the original document, or handwritten note. Any modification to a will must be done by codicil, an official legal document with the sole intent of adding onto or replacing terms in an existing will.
While a codicil may work for minor or insubstantial changes, if you'll be making significant revisions you may wish to speak to a lawyer regarding whether it would be appropriate to revoke the original will and draft an entirely new one in its place.
Modification of Wills After Death of Author
Generally, under Florida wills law, modification is not allowed if the author of the will is deceased. There are only a very narrow set of circumstances under which a will may be modified in Florida, after the death of the author.
Circumstances Where Modification May Be Possible
In Florida, once the author has died, a will may only be modified in the event of a mistake of fact or law that affects the original intent of the author of the will at the time the will was created. While this may sound easy, proving the existence of a mistake and the author's intent can be a complicated and incredibly fact specific process. Florida law provides that the person requesting the modification or “reformation” of the will must demonstrate both the mistake and the original intent by clear and convincing evidence. This evidentiary standard is a high bar to meet and it can often be difficult for family members to determine on their own what evidence is relevant and will be sufficient proof for the court.
Consult a Florida Wills Modification Attorney
When considering requesting a modification of a will, whether you are the author or a beneficiary after the author has passed, you should consider hiring a qualified Florida Will Modification attorney. At the Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. we offer a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your modification case and can work with you to ensure the best outcome possible.