No one wants to think ahead to their final resting days. However, there are some essential documents you’ll want to have in place before your death, paramount of which is a last will and testament. A will is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to their assets and dependents.
Creating this document is an essential step to ensuring that your money, belongings, and estate are properly distributed after your death. A will can not only legally protect your children, spouse, and the rest of your possessions, but also mandate precisely how you want everything handled after your death.
If you’re preparing to draft a will, you’ve likely come across dozens of templates and how-to videos. While there are many resources about creating wills, it’s not always best to take a DIY approach to estate planning. Securing the help of an experienced Orlando Will Lawyer can help you address all components of your estate, ensure that everything is legally binding, navigate complex family dynamics, reduce your tax burden, and ultimately protect your interests. At Patriot Legal Group, we’re dedicated to helping you draft a will that best suits your goals.
What Is a Will?
Generally speaking, a will is a legal record that arranges the distribution of your assets after your death. A will can also be used to name an executor, decide how debts and taxes will be paid, appoint guardians for children and their property, provide for pets, and serve as a backup to a living trust.
If you do not have a will, the State of Florida decides how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries, but the resulting settlement process may not produce the results that you’d prefer. As such, a will is an essential document to have drafted because it allows you to communicate your wishes clearly and precisely.
To make a will in Florida, you must be 18 years of age or older, be “of sound mind,” name beneficiaries for at least some of your property, sign the document, and have the form signed by two witnesses which were present at the same time as you signed the document. Your Will has to be a hard paper copy, not in a digital format. Your Will doesn’t have to be notarized to be legal, but if not then a “Self-Proving Affidavit” needs to be included. Note that Florida doesn’t recognize nuncupative (oral) or holographic (handwritten) wills that are not witnessed.
What Happens If You Die without a Will?
In Florida, dying without a Will means your property will be distributed according to state “intestacy” laws found in Florida Statutes §§ 732.101-732.111. If you don’t have any lineal descendants, a surviving spouse will generally take all the deceased’s property. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your grandchildren or your parents will be next in line to attain your property. This list will continue with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and your spouse’s relatives. If the court can’t find any additional living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
In any case, not having a Will can instigate a complicated and frustrating legal battle for your loved ones. Producing a Will now, while you’re still alive and of sound mind, is crucial if you want to distribute your assets according to your wishes and limit the stress and impediments for your family after your death.
Can You Change or Revoke a Will in Florida?
In Florida, you may revoke or change your Will at any time. If you want to make minor adjustments, you may do so through the use of a codicil, which is an addition or modification that must be executed with the same formalities as a Will for it to be valid. If you’d like to revoke your Will entirely, one method of doing so is by burning, tearing, canceling, defacing, obliterating, or destroying your Will with the intent to revoke it. You may also make a new Will or codicil that says it revokes the prior one or includes contradictory terms.
If you’d like to change or revoke your Will, it’s vital to secure the help of an Orlando Will Lawyer who can help ensure that everything is legally executed according to your desires.
Contact a Seasoned Orlando Will Lawyer Today
Are you ready to take the next step to protect your family by creating a Last Will and Testament? If so, look no further than the seasoned Orlando Will Lawyers at Patriot Legal Group. Our team of experienced professionals has assisted hundreds of clients with their last Will and testament needs and is dedicated to guiding you and your family with sensitivity and compassion.
At Patriot Legal Group, we intimately understand how complex and confusing this process can be, which is why we’re committed to standing by your side and protecting your legal rights. Our personal approach removes the guesswork and creates a smooth and pain-free process for you and your family. For help ensuring that your Will is legally binding and best suits your interests, give us a call at (407) 737-7222 or complete our online contact form today!