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How Can You Revoke a Will in Florida?


Life rarely stands still, and many people realize at some point that their current last will and testament does not work for them. For this reason, they want to revoke it.

Under Florida law, you can revoke a will using different techniques. However, once you revoke a will, you need to carefully consider what steps to take next. If you die without a will (called dying intestate), your estate passes according to Florida’s intestacy laws. This means that people could inherit assets from you that you otherwise would not want them to have. To put together a sensible, coherent estate plan, contact an estate planning attorney in The Villages today.

Revoking a Will by Physical Act

This is probably the easiest way. You can take some physical act that shows your intent to cancel the will. This can include tearing it up into pieces, burning it, obliterating it, cancelling it, or otherwise destroying the document. If the will is in electronic form, you can also revoke it by deleting canceling, obliterating it, or making it unreadable.

The key is that the act manifests your intent to cancel the will. Dropping a cigarette on the will that burns a hole in it would not suffice. That’s an accident. But intentionally tossing it in the fire would manifest an intent to cancel, even if the fire is unable to consume the whole document.

A person who revokes a will by physical act must have capacity to do so, just as they need capacity to create a will in the first place. If you cannot physically revoke it yourself, someone else can act in your presence and at your direction.

Revoking a Will by a Codicil or Subsequent Will

The majority of people who revoke a will do so using a written document, either a codicil (which is an amendment) or a subsequent will that states they are revoking any prior wills. Using a written document to accomplish this task makes sense. There is no confusion about your intent, especially when you use an attorney.

However, you still need capacity, and you must create the codicil or will by following Florida’s formalities, such as signing in the presence of two witnesses. If you fail to follow these formalities, the revocation will not be legally effective.

Sometimes, people create a subsequent written document that does not explicitly state it is revoking a prior will. However, the revocation could still happen due to inconsistency. See Fla. Stat. § 732.505. For example, you might leave your home to your brother in you 2002 will but leave it to your sister in your 2021 version. So long as the later will is valid, it will revoke anything that is inconsistent.

Next Steps

Revocation is only a first step—and should not be your last! Now you must think about how you want to dispose of your estate. Simply tearing up a will means you probably lose control of who receives the assets you have spent a lifetime building.

At Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group, we help our clients think through their estate planning goals. Once we have those in hand, we can create an amendment or new will to give effect to your wishes. We can also create other estate documents as well. Call us today, 800-743-9732, to schedule a consultation.


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