Last Will and Testament

A WILL IS NOT ALWAYS ENOUGH; BUT, IT’S A START

Thinking about writing a will is frightening, but avoiding this responsibility can be devastating to you and your family!

What are the other advantages of creating a will?

  • A will can distribute your assets in the way you wish, to the people you wish and in the manner you wish.
  • A will can set the guardians for any minor children.
  • A will can reflect your burial or cremation instructions.
  • An original will eliminates the need for an heir search.
  • A will allows your family the comfort of knowing they are taken care of after your death.

Do I have to have a will?

No, you do not have to have a will. However, if you do not have a will, you will not be in control of how your assets are distributed or who receives them.

Can the state take over my estate if I don’t have a will?

  • Yes! Florida’s intestate laws will automatically go into effect if you do not have a will.
  • The intestate laws determine who will become the beneficiaries of your estate by using a family lineage and percentage formula.
  • You will not have a choice in deciding whether or not to include or exclude your relatives as beneficiaries.
  • You will not have a choice in deciding how much money the beneficiaries receive from your estate.

What happens to my children if I don’t have a will?

Your children will be at the mercy of the court regarding the selection of their guardian if you do not expressly state your preference in a will or legal document. This may lead to their entrance into foster care as wards of the state.

How do I execute a will?

  • Every state has particular statutory and legal requirements regarding the execution of a will. Generally, the will must be in writing, signed by a person of sound mind. Additionally, it must signed by competent witnesses.
  • Oral, video and hand-written wills are not valid in Florida.
  • The drafting, execution, and recording of a will should be done by a trust and and estate attorney that is familiar with your specific state regulations.

What if I change my mind? Can I change my will during my lifetime?

Yes. Wills can be changed or revoked during your lifetime, but these changes require new signatures by you and your witnesses.

How is a will processed after I die?

A will must be processed through the court system before the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. This process is commonly referred to as “probate.” Probate usually takes at least six months, but it can also last for years.

Can I keep my will a secret before and after my death?

You can keep the information in your will private during your lifetime; however, after death, you will is part of the state’s public records. Anyone can look at your will after your death.

Is there any way to keep the contents of my will private after I die?

Yes. A trust and estate attorney can help you establish a “pour-over will.” Upon your death, this type of will “pours over” into a trust that has been previously set up by your attorney. A trust is a private agreement and will protect the privacy of whatever was in the pour-over will.

Can a will be challenged?

Yes, but a will combined with a living trust can avoid all challenges and public embarrassment.

How can I be assured my will is “ironclad?”

An experienced trust and estate attorney can anticipate challenges to your will. This is another reason that you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney who knows the extent of Florida regulations regarding estate law.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation.

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