Considering the important role they play in allowing you to control how your assets are distributed after your death the legal requirements for wills are not as complex as you might imagine. All states, including Florida, have laws specifying the rules for testamentary capacity and legal capacity that must exist for a will to be valid.

Legal capacity in Palm Beach County requires that makers of wills be at least 18 years of age. The document must be in writing and it must be witnessed by at least two people. The witnesses must be present when you sign the will, and each of them must sign attesting to what they just witnessed. The witnesses and the make of the will all sign in the presence of each other.

Florida law does not recognize the validity for will planning of an oral will. Wills written in the handwriting of the maker are only valid if they are executed with the same formalities as a more formally prepared document. This is contrary to some states that recognize an unwitnessed will if it is in the handwriting of the maker.

Another requirement for wills to be valid requires the maker to be of sound mind at the time of its formal execution. This is referred to as testamentary capacity. Beneficiaries and others who are not satisfied with the provisions made for them in a will frequently use lack of testamentary capacity as grounds for a will contest following the death of the maker.

Although they might not seem complex, failing to follow the legal requirements for the preparation and execution of wills can lead the document being declared invalid. The best way to avoid issues with your will planning is to consult with a Palm Beach County estate planning attorney for legal advice.