Issues surrounding wills executed outside of the state of Florida, or even outside of the country, may present an interesting analysis on whether the will can be determined valid in Florida.

In this recent opinion from the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the Decedent’s brother was a Haitian native, and just a few months before his death, he prepared a will pursuant to the dictates of Haitian law. Per the court’s opinion, this requires the testator to dictate the will to a Haitian notary, who transcribes it and reads it back to the testator, after which the will is signed by the testator, a notary, and 4 witnesses, and the original will is registered by the notary with the Haitian Tax Office and the notary keeps the original.

On a will challenge raised in the Miami-Dade probate court as to the proper execution of the will, and after consideration of affidavits of the notary and a Haitian attorney on the validity of the will under Haitian law, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the validity of the will. The Court explained, among other things, that there was no court action filed in Haiti regarding the validity of the will so it remained valid under Haitian law. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 733.502, and other than a holographic (handwritten) or nuncupative (oral) will, a will is valid in this state if it is valid under the laws of the state or country where the will was executed.

It is wise to speak with an experienced estate and trust attorney when you have issues involving the proper execution of estate planning documents and any question on whether the will is validly executed pursuant to the stringent statutory requirements of Florida law.