1. OVERVIEW OF FLORIDA WILLS
A will is a written document that directs the distribution of your property upon your death. The laws of each state control the requirements of your will. Each state may have its own unique guidelines for the creation of your will. Drafting your will in Florida requires that you comply with Florida’s will statute and guidelines in order for the document to be valid. If the document is not valid, the entire purpose of the will may be for nothing. Some of the most basic requirements are as follows
1) You must be of sound mind to create your will.
2) Your will cannot be oral, it must be written.
3) The proper attestation & execution procedures must be complied with.
2. WHAT DOES A WILL ENABLE YOU TO DO?
Without a will or some other estate planning mechanism, your assets will pass to your heirs through the distribution scheme contained in Florida’s rules of intestate succession and be administered through the probate process. Alternatively, if you have a will, although your possessions will still be distributed through the probate process, you have control on where they go and how much to whom. Additionally, if you would like to leave items to people that are not in your family you cannot do so without a will or other estate planning mechanism. Also, an estate will be administered and wrapped up by a person called an executor or personal representative. If you do not designate this person the Court can determine who will take on this task. Often this falls on the surviving spouse who may or may not want the burden of administering an estate. Having a will also allows you to make gifts to charities, churches or causes that you would like to support. Finally, having a will gives you the power to decide a guardian for your minor children in the event that something happens to you and/or your spouse.
4. HOW LONG DOES YOUR WILL REMAIN VALID?
Your will remains valid assuming that it was drafted correctly all the way up until your passing or until you revoke or change it. If you think that your will is going to be challenged by your heirs it is crucial that you employ an attorney to make sure that all the formalities of a will are understood and complied with. Additionally, if there will be any claim regarding your state of mind while executing a will, it will be in your best interest to obtain an affidavit from your treating physician regarding your mental competency in order to create a will. If you have had major life changes such as the divorce, adoption, birth of children, deaths in the family or a significant change in the overall size of your estate, it is important to review your will to make sure that the document still accurately reflects your wishes. The point being, that although your will may still be technically valid under Florida law, if it doesn’t accurately reflect your wishes or your circumstances, it needs to be amended.