Is it possible to Probate a COPY of a Will without the ORIGINAL in Florida?

Yes.  Florida law presumes that a will has been lost or destroyed if the original is not located, however that presumption may be overcome.  Florida Statutes provide a procedure for probate of a lost or destroyed will.  Section 773.207 states:

“Any interested person may establish the full and precise terms of a lost or destroyed will and offer the will for probate. The specific content of the will must be proved by the testimony of two disinterested witnesses, or, if a correct copy is provided, it shall be proved by one disinterested witness.”

Florida Probate Rule 5.510 governs the procedure for probate of a lost or destroyed will.

Rule 5.510. Establishment and Probate of Lost or Destroyed Will

(a) Proceeding. The establishment and probate of a lost or destroyed will shall be in one proceeding.

(b) Petition. The petition, in addition to reciting information required under these rules for petition for administration, shall include a statement of the facts constituting grounds on which relief is sought, and a statement of the contents of the will or, if available, a copy of the will.

(c) Testimony. The testimony of each witness in the proceeding shall be reduced to writing and filed and may be used as evidence in any contest of the will if the witness has died or moved from the state.

(d) Notice. No lost or destroyed will shall be admitted to probate unless formal notice has been given to those who, but for the will, would be entitled to the property thereby devised.

(e) Order. The order admitting the will to probate shall state in full its terms and provisions.

If you are an interested party in a decedent’s estate and you are unable to locate the original will, you may administer the estate with a copy by meeting the Florida statutory requirements.


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July 2024