Thinking about death, especially your own death, can be uncomfortable. Add to that the issue…
Florida residents must sign wills at the end of the document in the presence of at least two witnesses who are both present at the same time and place with the testator (person making the Will), and also signed in the presence of a notary public so that the Will is self-proving in case of death. Self-proving Wills can be admitted to probate after the death of the testator without having the witnesses come to the courthouse.
What can be accomplished by having a will?
You decide who gets your property instead of the law making the choice for you.
You may name the personal representative (executor) of your will as you choose, provided the one named can qualify under Florida law.
Trust may be created in a will whereby the estate or a portion of the estate will be kept intact with income distributed or accumulated for the benefit of members of the family or others. Minors can be cared for without the expense of proceedings for guardianship of property.
Real estate and other assets may be sold without court proceedings, if your will adequately authorizes it.You may make gifts, effective at or after your death, to charity.You decide who bears any tax burden, rather than the law making that decision.A guardian may be named for minor children.
What happens when there is no will?
If you die without a will, your property will be distributed to your heirs according to a formula fixed by law. If you fail to make a will, the inheritance statute determines who gets your property. The inheritance statute contains a rigid formula and makes no exception for those in unusual need.
When there is no will, the court appoints a personal representative, known or unknown to you, to manage your estate. The cost of probating may be greater than if you had planned your estate with a will, and the administration of your estate may be subject to greater court supervision.
How long is a will good?
It is “good” until it is changed or revoked in the manner required by law. Your will may be changed as often as you desire while you are sane and not under undue influence, duress, or fraud, provided it is changed in the required manner. Changes in circumstances after the execution of the will, such as tax law amendments, deaths, marriage, divorce, birth of children, or even a substantial change in the nature or amount of your estate, may raise questions as to the adequacy of your will. All changes require a careful analysis and reconsideration of all the provisions of your will and may make it advisable to change the will to conform to the new situation.
Who should prepare a will?
The drafting of a will involves making decisions that require professional judgment which can be obtained only by years of training, experience, and study. Only the practicing lawyer can avoid the pitfalls and advise the course best suited for each individual situation. In addition, an experienced attorney will be able to coordinate the use of other skilled professionals, such as an investment advisor, actuary, insurance specialist, and tax accountant to complete a proper estate plan. There is no such thing as a “simple will.” Even smaller estates can have complexities only foreseeable by the experienced attorney.