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How Does a Will Work in Florida and Why Should You Draft One?

How Does a Will Work in Florida and Why Should You Draft One?

Everybody wants to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected and have a secure future when they are no longer with them. In this case, a will is the simplest way to direct what happens to your financial assets and property after death. Unfortunately, a surprising number of people in the United States do not opt to draft a will. A will helps protect the future of families and loved ones.

If a resident of Florida dies without a will, the state law of Florida decides about the property distribution of the deceased person. Often the outcome of the distribution comes as a surprise for the family. Also, the result may not be what the deceased person might have wanted.

To avoid these circumstances, it is always advised to take advantage of the legal options with the help of an estate planning attorney in Florida. An estate planning attorney assists you in assessing the best way to distribute the property, completing the paperwork, and drafting the will.

This blog, for most of it, revolves around how a will works in Florida, why you should draft one, and how an estate planning attorney can help you in doing that.

What is a Will and What is its Purpose?

A will is a legal document in which the creator decides about the disposition of his/her assets and property. The creator of the will is known as the testator. Simply, it is the distribution of property among the loved ones. However, they can only have the right to own that property after the death of the testator. The main purpose of drafting the will is:

  • To leave your property to your family
  • To secure the future of your loved ones
  • To avoid any family conflict
  • To create trusts for your children
  • To name a personal guardian for your minor children

What are the Requirements to Draft a Will in Florida?

Drafting a last will or testament in Florida requires certain formalities. Though many people think that they can simply draft a will on their own, a document that does not fulfill the technical requirements will be deemed invalid. For a will or testament to be valid in Florida:

The testator must be 18 years of age or older at the time of the execution of the will.
  • Two witnesses must be present during the signing of the will.
  • The State of Florida does not recognize holographic wills (signed handwritten but unattested will). Videos or audio-taped wills are also not valid in Florida.

Which Type of Property Can You Distribute Through a Will in Florida?

The testator can distribute the following property in Florida:

  • Intellectual property
  • Real property
  • Personal property
  • Vehicles and other titled property

    The testator has the option to liquidate the property and distribute it to the beneficiaries or through direct bequests of specific property to organizations or specific people.

What is the Probate Process for a Will in Florida?

The probate process in Florida can be complicated without any experience of extensive estate management. That is why people often hire an estate planning attorney before drafting their will. An estate planning attorney personally represents the testator throughout the Florida probate process. Here is an outline of how an estate planning attorney in Florida carries out the probate process:

  • Serving the notice of administration
  • Inventorying and valuing the assets and property
  • Preserving the property
  • Liquidating assets
  • Publishing a notice to creditors
  • Paying all the pending debts of the estate
  • Filing necessary tax returns
  • Distributing assets and property to beneficiaries
  • Providing accounting to beneficiaries
  • Preparing final accounting for the court

Can You Revoke or Change Your Will in Florida?

A will has no legal effect when the testator is alive. However, it can be modified or revoked at any time as long as proper procedures are followed. In Florida, you can revoke your will by:

  • Making a new codicil or will.
  • Burning, canceling, tearing, obliterating, destroying, or defacing your will with the intent of revoking it.
  • Instructing someone else to do one of the acts listed above with your will.

Can a Will be Challenged in Florida?

A will can be challenged by a beneficiary or natural heir of the testator. The beneficiary or heir may contest the will on the following grounds:

  •  Lack of proper execution. For example, the beneficiary may challenge the signature of the testator.
  •  Lack of capacity to draft the will. For example, the testator is under the age of 18 or does not have a sound mind and is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive decline, or a similar condition.
  • An allegation by the beneficiary or natural heir that the will has been revised or revoked.
  •  The testator was under the influence or pressure of someone while drafting the will.
  •  The will was created as a result of fraud. 

Why Should You Draft a Will in Florida?

People often think that only the wealthy or those who have complicated assets need to create a will. However, there are many other good reasons to draft a will:

  •  You can decide who gets your property and assets.
  •  You can easily distribute your property among your beneficiaries.
  •  You can keep your assets and property out of the hands of your estranged relatives.
  •  Without a will, you cannot decide the guardian of your children if they are minor in age.
  •  Your natural heirs will have easier access to your assets and property after your death.

Why Should You Hire an Estate Planning Attorney to Help Create a Will?

The last will or testament should always be prepared under the supervision of an expert estate planning attorney. An experienced attorney can advise you on whether your will is prepared according to the state laws, and:

  •  Assist you in finding the best way to pass the property to your beneficiaries.
  •  Help you with all the considerations and provisions of your property.
  •  Prepare all the necessary documents required.
  •  Ensure that all the provisions are made for your minor children.
  • Assist in making a power of attorney, which will ensure that your affairs are managed if you become incapacitated.

    Drafting a will on your own can be time-consuming, expensive and not cost-effective. To make sure that your will is well-prepared in Florida according to the state laws, you should consider drafting it with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.