To ensure that your property and assets are distributed according to your intentions, it is best to speak with an estate planning professional about a will or other important documents that will give legal effect to your property distribution plan.
Florida’s legal requirements for a will
The Florida Bar has issued guidelines to assist consumers with making sure they have a will and other basic estate planning measures.
The requirements for a valid will include:
- created by an adult
- who is of sound mind and not under duress and anyone else’s influence
- the must be document properly notarized and witnessed
- the document must comply with all of these requirements and others set out by Florida law
- the document does not become active until the testator has died, and it must be capable of being executed immediately, meaning no future conditions will be honored
- all amendments to a will, called codicils, must meet the same formal requirements as the will itself
- any attempted changes to a will by writing over or crossing out terms may invalidate the entire document
- You generally cannot disinherit a spouse that is still alive unless there is other documentation that allows this
Reasons for creating a will
A will is the most basic form of estate planning. It can be used to determine exactly where money, property, and other assets will go after the testator has died. However, if the will is not written and witnessed according to the requirements of state law, the probate court will treat a person’s estate as if they died without any will at all. The state’s intestacy statute provides a set of default rules that decides where a person’s money and property goes if they have no will.
Disputes over wills
It is common for family members to argue over assets after a relative has died. To arguments and litigation, it is best to ensure the document is properly and carefully executed according to state law and appropriate plans are left with the probate attorney.
More advanced forms of estate planning
For individuals with significant assets or large families, it may also be beneficial to to create a more detailed estate plan. This plan can begin to function while the testator is still alive through trusts and other means, and it can also accomplish the same goals as a will if necessary.
Speak with a local attorney in your area to learn more
There are lawyers who serve the treasure coast area and nearby parts of Florida with superior representation in various estate planning matters. To get answers to your questions, get in touch with:
850 NW Federal Highway, #1004, Stuart, FL 34994