The Florida Last Will and Testament
The foundation of basic estate planning is the drafting and signing of a Last Will & Testament. No matter how small your estate, it is a good idea to have a Florida Will. It is your written instructions to a probate court, which declares how you want assets that are titled in your name to be distributed at the time of your death.
A well-drafted Will has two key parts:
- Clear instructions of your wishes about the beneficiaries of your property – “Who gets what and how” of the assets you’ve left behind; and
- You name the personal representative (also called the executor) – the person or persons whom you want to settle your affairs and handle the administration of your estate after you are gone.
A proper Florida Will can make all the difference to those you leave behind.
Anyone 18 years of age or older can create a Last Will & Testament. Whether it concerns a million-dollar estate or your car and a few cherished possessions, a customized, attorney-drafted Will makes things much easier for everyone left behind. Most important, you will have peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.
Do You Really Need an Attorney For Wills?
Many people believe that a Will they have prepared by themselves is sufficient. If done correctly, they are valid and legal. Yet, this do-it-yourself approach may cause unforeseen problems for your family and your heirs, simply by not accounting for other legal options and consequences.
- What assets are and are not part of a Florida probate estate?
- If you suddenly pass away, who would be the guardian of your minor child?
- At what ages do you want your children to receive an inheritance – and who will manage it for them in the meantime?
- If you have wealth, have you been counseled on gift and estate taxation, donations, and asset protection planning?
- Have you considered creating Trusts for the benefit of loved ones, and how they would be administered?
If you already have a valid Florida Will in place, it is always wise to have it reviewed when your circumstances have changed. Divorce, additional children and stepchildren, remarriage, an increase or decrease in your property and assets are just a few excellent reasons to revisit your Will.
What happens if you die without a Will?
Too many people die suddenly, or unexpectedly, before they managed to execute their Will.
If you pass away without a valid Will (or Trust) in place, the State of Florida will decide who gets your assets by following the pre-determined formula as stated in the inheritance statutes—which is likely not the way you would have chosen. If you have no heirs at all, meaning no living blood relatives, living descendants or surviving spouse, the State of Florida will take your assets.
Not having a Will can slow down the probate process resulting in very costly, exasperating and time consuming efforts on the part of your loved ones. If you want to designate exactly who will receive your assets and not rely on the state of Florida’s judgment, you must have a valid Will.
If you would like to discuss drafting a Florida Will, please contact me at 407-478-8700.