An estate plan, whether in Florida or any other state, contains a lot more than just a will. However, a will is an important part of your estate planning package and it is essential to ensure that your will is effective and valid. It is a good idea to work with an estate planning attorney to make sure that everything is in order.
A will is a document that provides instructions on how to distribute property after you pass away. There are different laws that apply in each state for the will to be considered valid. The laws for a will in Florida are as follows:
- The owner of the will must be a minimum of 18 years old.
- The owner must be of sound mind when they sign the will.
- The will must be in writing.
- The will must be witnessed and notarized exactly according to Florida law.
- The will must be executed exactly according to Florida law.
- The will must be declared valid in Florida probate court.
It is important to understand that the will is not considered valid you pass away. You can change the will at any time but the new will must be signed and it will be considered the latest will. Crossing anything out on the will after it has already been executed is not allowed, otherwise, either the crossed out part or the entire will may be considered invalid.
What is the value of a will?
The owner of the will uses the document to decide exactly who will inherit their property (assets) instead of the law deciding. The will’s owner might designate an executor of the will, who will manage the estate for the will’s owner. That person must be qualified in the eyes of Florida law. The executor may either be a person or an institution.
The will may include a trust, a direction to sell off real estate or other valuable assets (which does not need to involve the court), direction to give gifts to charity, direction about who is responsible to pay the taxes on the estate, and designated guardian(s) if there are minor children involved. If there is no will, what will be done with the assets will be dictated by the law. Without a will, there are probably more expenses involved as well.
Solid advice of an estate planning attorney
If you are in the process of writing a will, the advice of a knowledgeable Tampa, Florida, estate planning attorney may make your experience must less daunting. The attorney can facilitate the process and can create a customized will that will meet your unique needs so that your legacy will be passed on.