Finding people to assist in estate planning signature requirements can be overwhelming. Those who move across the country or the elderly often experience problems finding witnesses or a notary public to ensure legal documents are valid.
One of the most important estate planning tips is to remember that estate planning documents must be created within the state you reside. If you move from one state to another, your estate documents must be re-done and have new signatures.
In Florida, estate documents must be signed before a notary and witnesses. This is where notary companies come to the rescue. They come to your location with the appropriate number of witnesses and a notary to make sure all your documents are legally valid.
What Are Estate Planning Documents?
If you are wondering “what is estate planning?” the answer is simple. It is developing a comprehensive estate plan for which your attorney prepares at least four (4) documents for your signature. These include a revocable living trust, will, financial power of attorney, and an advance directive.
Revocable Living Trust
The revocable living trust is used to manage your assets during your life. It also specifies how your assets are to be distributed following your death. As the creator of the trust, you are the “grantor” or “settlor.”
The trustee manages the assets of the trust. Usually, the grantor serves as a trustee. The trust specifies a successor trustee to manage and distribute your assets after your death.
The trust is revocable, meaning you may modify or terminate the trust as long as you are living. During your lifetime you fund the trust. This means you place assets such as bank accounts, real estate, and investments into the trust.
The trust becomes the owner of those assets. Assets that are not in your trust may be subject to probate. Avoiding probate and tax savings are set forth in Chapter 736 of the Florida Trust Code.
Each state establishes signing requirements to make the trust legal and enforceable. Florida requires that a revocable trust be signed before two (2) witnesses and a notary public.
Florida law also requires witnesses to be separate persons from your notary. This is where mobile notary services in Pompano Beach, FL can help. They will come to any location and can provide witnesses and notary services you need.
A will provides instructions for who inherits your belongings after you die. Without a will, you die intestate. This means that because you have not provided instructions, the state will determine what is done with your assets.
Your will also specifies who you wish to serve as guardian of your minor children in the event of your untimely death. If you do not designate a guardian, the state will make this decision for you.
The intestate laws of the state where your property is located determine how your assets will be distributed. In Florida, intestate succession is established in Florida Statues §§ 732-101 to 732-111.
To avoid having the State of Florida make these decisions for you, you need a will properly signed and notarized before two witnesses and a notary public. If your will does not meet the signing requirements, its validity will need to be determined by a notary or the court.
Financial Power of Attorney
A power of attorney provides authorization to the person you name to handle your financial matters if you become unable to do so. Your power of attorney (POA) establishes under what circumstances it becomes effective.
The POA also sets forth what transactions the person may handle. For example, a POA is not able to make changes to your will, trust, or beneficiaries.
In Florida, a power of attorney must contain the signature of two (2) witnesses plus that of a notary public. If these witness and notary signatures are not on the document it will be deemed invalid.
An advance directive is a group of forms advising others about your instructions for health care if you cannot voice your wishes. Your directive selects the person you wish to make decisions regarding your medical care.
There are five (5) different directives in Florida.
- Living Will—advises others of your end-of-life treatment wishes
- Health Care Surrogate—this is a medical POA providing authorization to someone to make medical decisions on your behalf
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)—advises medical staff not to take life-saving steps
- Donor—advises medical personnel of your organ donation wishes
- Wallet Card—a card you carry in your wallet that notifies health care providers that you have advance directives and who has copies of them
Florida law requires you to sign your Advance Directive before two (2) adult witnesses. The document does not require notarization, but with any legal document is always beneficial to prove its authenticity.
Notary v. Witness
When signing legal documents, witnesses verify the identity of the person signing the document. A witness does not have any special credentials. Their name, address, and signature on the document are sufficient to meet the witness requirements.
The role of a notary public is to prevent fraud. By following Florida law regarding notary duties, they provide legal verification of the identity of the person signing the document.
The notary’s duties are set forth in Florida Statutes §117.107(9). This includes requiring they watch the person sign the document.
The Florida Governor’s Reference Manual For Notaries specifies the steps a notary must take before validating a document:
- Scan the document to make sure it is complete
- Verify the notarial certificate is correct and change and initial this information prior to notarizing
- Verify the date and if filled in, line it out and fill in the correct date by hand
- Verify the person’s identity by checking their photo ID
- Make sure the signer understands the document and knows what it contains prior to having them sign
- Administer the oath or acknowledgment that the person is signing of their own free will
- Complete the notary certificate and sign, print or type name, and affix the notary seal
The Governor’s manual sets forth special procedures for notaries to follow when dealing with a client that is blind, mentally incapacitated, deaf, illiterate, and more. When you hire a notary mobile near me you can be assured that you are hiring a professional who knows and follows all steps necessary to make sure our document is valid under the law.
Professional Notarization of Estate Documents
Once your attorney completes your estate documents, they may ask you to bring your own witnesses for signing. That is where the Notary Services of Pompano Beach 24/7 Mobile can help.
We are a family-operated mobile notary public signing service. We provide reliable, on-time notary public signing and witness services to title companies, real estate professionals, lawyers, mortgage lenders, and the general public. We perform our services at any location convenient for you.
All staff are certified, licensed, and bonded by the National Notary Association. We encourage you to book an appointment today by calling (754) 444-9958 or visit our website to learn more about our services.