Florida Wills Attorney
Even if you don’t have a lot of money, stocks/bonds, life insurance, real estate, cars, or other property, you still need a Last Will and Testament (will) to:
- Ensure your final, end-of-life wishes are known to your loved ones and are carried out;
- Select a person (a personal representative or executor) to pay your bills and settle your affairs;
- List your heirs/beneficiaries and decide who will receive your assets and when they should receive them; and most importantly,
- Appoint a guardian to care for your minor children (under age 18).
Should Everyone Create a Living Will?
A will is a simple legal document that is a critical part of every adult’s estate plan. A properly executed and updated will ensures that the person creating it (also known as the testator) will have his or her wishes carried out after death. It also will ensure that the testator’s minor children will be taken care of and may alleviate disputes among the testator’s heirs and loved ones.
A will may not avoid probate after you die, but it will at least inform the court and your relatives and loved ones as to your wishes.
If you die without a will (also known as dying intestate), the state (or more specifically, a judge in state court) will decide who will receive your estate and what happens to your assets. Generally, the state will pass your assets to your legal and blood relatives, but may exclude your friends, stepchildren, charities or others you hold dear.
If you die without naming a legal guardian for your children, the court will select a guardian that is in the best interests of your children, but it may not be someone you would have chosen.
If you already have a will, it’s a good idea to review it every few years. You may need to update your will if you:
- have a change in marital status (a new marriage, death or divorce);
- purchase new property or have a significant change in income or assets;
- if you move to a new state (each state is different and may not recognize another state’s will as valid);
- if your personal representative, guardian or beneficiary/heir predeceases you (dies before you do); or
- if you need to add or remove beneficiaries.
To create a will, a testator must be over age 18 and “of sound mind,” meaning that he or she must be aware of what the will states, understand the amount of property/assets owned in the estate, and know that their heirs/relatives would generally be expected to share in the estate’s assets. The will must be signed under free will (meaning no one is forcing you to sign it) and signed in front of witnesses who are not your beneficiaries. If your will doesn’t meet these conditions, it could be invalidated in probate court.
RTRLAW can help our clients draft wills that meet their needs and are suitable for the probate court. Our experienced and qualified estate planning attorneys will advise our clients on all important issues, such as choosing a personal representative to handle your affairs after you pass away, developing a plan for taking care of children, dependent loved ones and beloved pets, and other important provisions.
You can meet with an attorney at one of our seven convenient offices in Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Kissimmee, Lake Worth, Miami or Jacksonville.