A Will can be a vital legal document that allows a person to ensure specific wishes regarding their estate are carried out after their passing. Although popular culture has made a common Will out to be nothing more than a scrap of paper with some notes about which third cousin should get the family jewels, an actual Will is a little more formal. Our Melbourne Will and estate planning attorneys assist our clients with their estate planning-related needs.
Requirements to Draft a Legally Binding Will
Under Section 732.502 of the Florida Statutes, a legally valid Will requires the following:
- The testator's (a person making a will) signature at the end of the Will. The signature can either be by the testator or by a person designated to sign the will at their testator's direction in their presence.
- A witness to observe signing the Will or an acknowledgment of a signature by another person acting on the testator's behalf.
- A witness’s signature in the presence of the testator.
A Will does not require specific language, indicating it is a will to meet the above requirements. Further, changes to a Will (known as a codicil) can only be valid by meeting the conditions listed above.
How Can a Will Help My Financial Situation?
A Will allows a person to make three fundamental decisions regarding their assets upon their death:
- A Will outlines the division of assets like real estate, bank accounts, and personal belongings amongst family, friends, and charities.
- A Will allows a person to designate an administrator to oversee the distribution of their assets.
- A Will can include the appointment of a guardian for any minor children or other dependents under a person's care.
Consequences of Not Acquiring a Will
Generally, drafting a Will is one of the simplest and cheapest forms of representation in the legal industry. However, not acquiring a will can be a costly result for a person's estate and create a massive headache for their loved ones years after death.
If a person dies without a Will or other estate planning tool, they die "intestate." Once this occurs, all of their financial assets go through the probate process. In probate, a court or a court-appointed executor will painstakingly parse through a person's financial assets and decide how to divide up funds, sell assets (real estate, investments, etc.), and pay off debt.
Once in Probate, loved ones have little control over decisions regarding a person's estate and have to pay costly legal fees to represent potential interests in any assets. Further, administering an estate throughout the Probate process can also be expensive. Thus, funds in the estate will be used to pay for representation, resulting in fewer funds going to loved ones and to pay off any remaining debt. To avoid the Probate process, having a legally binding Will in place can prevent many of these headaches in the future.
Contact Us Today
By contacting one of our experienced Will and Estate Planning attorneys at Lacey Lyons Rezanka, we can guide you through the Will drafting process and help you protect your assets in the future. Contact one of our Melbourne Will and Estate Planning attorneys today for a consultation by calling us at (321) 608-0890.