You’ve recently started thinking that you won’t be here forever, and you want to make sure your love ones are financially secure in the event of your passing. You know you should probably create a will, but you’re not sure what that even means, and moreover, you don’t know where to begin.
Well, here’s what you need to know:
If someone dies without a will in Florida, they are considered “intestate.” This means that anything they left behind will be divvied up based on the Florida statutes – in that case, the law decide who gets your stuff, and not you.
If a will is left – it will usually be honored, as long as it meets the requirements of Florida law.
So, what exactly is a will? A will is simply a document signed by the decedent (deceased) and witnesses that meets the requirements of Florida law. In that will, the decedent can name the beneficiaries who will receive the estate’s probate assets when he passes away. The decedent can also designate a personal representative, who will be responsible for administering the probate estate.
If the decedent’s will disposes of all of the decedent’s probate assets and designates a personal representative, the will controls over the default provisions of Florida law. If the decedent did not have a valid will, or if the will fails in some respect, the identities of the persons who will receive the decedent’s probate assets, and who will be selected as the personal representative of the decedent’s probate estate, will be as provided by Florida law.
Now, you may be tempted to just use a standard form to do your own will, in order to save legal cost. This is something I’ll warn you against. If you try to do it on your own, and mess it up, even by overlooking a simple legal requirement, the courts will not be sympathetic to you, or the people you tried to leave your assets to.
You should also stay away from using commercially available legal forms as this in the long run will lead to extensive attorneys’ fees down the road and even worse, it may frustrate the purposes the individual actually intended in drafting the document in the first place.
To ensure your estate planning needs are met, and that your assets will be distributed in the manner you so desire when you pass away, it is imperative that you adhere to Florida law requirements with strict compliance. If you’re in this position, and need legal assistance, give an attorney a call and have this important legal matter attended to and one of our experienced attorneys will assist you.
Yanique Otto is an attorney at the Otto Law Group.