Especially as you get older, you may find yourself thinking more and more about issues like making a will to ensure your affairs are in order. A Florida elder law lawyer can guide you in making decisions regarding your property while you remain healthy and competent. You never want to leave making a will until you are sick and on your deathbed-by which point you may no longer have the capacity to make your intentions known.
If you have never made a will before-or even if you made one many years ago and forgot about it-you understandably have a number of questions about the process. Here are few of the more common ones.
Any Florida resident who is at least 18 years old and "of sound mind" can make a will.
Many people retire to Florida after spending years living in another state. If you made a will while residing elsewhere-and the will was valid in that state-it should also be good in Florida. It is still a good idea to review the will with a Florida elder law attorney.
Florida law requires all wills to be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will). The testator's signature must be witnessed by at least two witnesses. The testator must declare the document is his or her will, but the witnesses do not need to read the will or know its contents. The witnesses must then sign the will in the presence of both the testator and each other.
You are not legally required to leave any part of your estate to an adult child. If that is your wish, it is a good idea to include specific language in your will explaining that you have intentionally made no provision for a specific child. If you are not clear about this, the omitted child may contest the will in court.
Not necessarily. In fact, a will may only dispose of a small part or even none of your property. It all depends on how your assets are owned. For example if you create a living trust and fund it with all of your existing assets, then nothing passes under your will. Similarly, any assets you jointly own with someone else, such as a house you own with your spouse or a joint checking account with your child-may automatically pass to the survivor upon death. Other assets, such as retirement accounts, may automatically pass to a designated beneficiary despite what your will says.
While the law does not require a lawyer's assistance, a will is not a DIY project. Even if you think your estate planning situation is simple, there may be legal issues you failed to consider. The last thing you want is for your will to lead to unnecessary squabbling (or litigation) between family members after your death. If you need help making a will, contact the Law Office of K. Hunter Goff, P.A., today at (866) 409-1647 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida probate attorney.