What Are The Requirements Of Writing A Will For Estate Planning?
What Are The Requirements Of Writing A Will For Estate Planning?
In estate planning, a will is a very powerful tool. Most people think that creating a will is only for elderly people. However, you can write your will as early as your adult years.
Hence, it is important that you learn about the requirements in writing a will in Florida.
What Is A Will In Estate Planning?
A will is a legal estate planning document that expresses a person’s wishes regarding how they want their assets to be distributed at the time of their passing. A will can include instructions, a selection of representatives, and other important notes, like the donation the testator wishes to give to charity.
One of the main purposes of creating a will is to protect your assets and the future of your family. This is because if you die without a will, the court decides on the distribution of your wealth according to the state’s intestacy law. And most of the time, it may be different from how you wish it to be.
Having a will also means that you have full control of your assets. You can ensure that your beneficiaries receive a fair amount of share of the properties you have earned throughout your life.
A will also allows you to select the legal guardian of your minor children until they reach the legal age. If you also have pets, you can also appoint a legal guardian for them.
Requirements Of A Will For Florida Estate Planning
The requirements in creating a will vary depending on the state laws and policies. Every testator, or the one who makes the will, shall comply with these requirements to consider the will legal and binding.
In case the testator has not created the will following these laws, the will may become invalid and the estate may be distributed under the intestacy laws. Intestacy laws apply when the decedent dies without a will.
In Florida, here are the requirements for a will to be legal and binding:
The Will Must Be In Writing
The will must be written. The probate courts of Florida will not render a will valid if it is declared orally (nuncupative wills). In the same regard, a will without the signatures of any witness (holographic will) shall be considered invalid as well.
The Will Must Be Made By A Competent Person
The person creating a will must be competent to make one. The law in Florida renders a will created by someone who is not of sound mind or is under 18 years old to be invalid.
The Will Must Contain The Signature Of The Testator
The testator must sign the will. The testator can put any symbol, letter, or initials to indicate his signature on the will. Any will created without a testator’s signature is not valid.
There Must Be At Least Two Witnesses
There must be at least two witnesses present in the signing of the will. One of the most important provisions of Florida law regarding wills is that it needs to have at least two witnesses. The witnesses must be present and see the testator sign the willl.
Any person can serve as the witness, however, you want to avoid selecting those who are specifically named in the will as this may create problems of undue influence in the future.
It is also crucial that every signatory, the testators, and the witnesses, must sign the will in everyone’s presence. A witness is not allowed to sign the will at a later date.
A Will May Be Changed Or Revoked
A will can be changed or revoked in Florida. The law allows a will to be amended or revoked by creating a will after the previous one or a codicil. A codicil is a document that expresses additional instructions or changes to a will.
To be acknowledged legally, a codicil shall comply with the legal requirements of executing a will.
A Lawyer Is Not Needed To Create A Will
A will can be created with or without the help of a lawyer. It is not a requirement of law to hire one in creating your will. However, there are instances where multiple problems can occur if not guided by a skilled estate planning attorney. It is recommended to hire a lawyer to avoid rendering your will invalid.
Do You Need To Have Your Will Notarized In Florida?
In Florida, there is no need for you to have your will notarized by a lawyer to render it valid. However, it is essential if you want to create a will that is self-proving. A self-proving will is one that can pass through the probate courts without the need for witness testimonies. It is a game changer as it can speed up the process of the probate proceedings.
To make it self-proving, you and your witnesses should sign an affidavit for self-proving along with the original will. The said affidavit must be notarized to be legally binding.
What Are The Requirements For Executors Of A Will In Florida?
An executor, or personal representative, is someone you appoint to take care of your estate and attend to the probate proceedings. They will also be responsible for ensuring that everything in the will is accomplished according to your wishes. In Florida, the term personal representative is most often used to refer to executors.
The executor can be named in the testator’s will. However, not everyone can be an executor. Here are the requirements to become one.
- The executor must be 18 years old or above.
- The executor must be of sound mind and must be physically capable to perform the responsibilities.
- The executor must not have any conviction of a felony.
- The executor must either be a resident of Florida or related to you by blood, adoption, or marriage.
How To Revoke Or Change Your Will In Florida?
It is allowed in Florida to revoke your will at any time as long as you are of sound mind to do so. Generally, there are two ways you can do this.
The first way is through voluntary action. Here, intentionally burning, tearing, shredding, or destroying your will can revoke your will and make it invalid.
The second way is through executing a new will that overrides and revokes the previous one. For example, you wrote in your previous will that you will give a car to your son. Then, you changed your mind and want to give it to your daughter now. You can create a new will that states you will give the car to your daughter. This overrides the previous one and the car shall belong to the daughter in the distribution.
You can revoke all parts of the previous will by expressly stating it in the new will. Generally, this will be a safer way to do it to avoid confusion in the future.
How To Write A Will In Florida?
Most people think that making a will is a very complicated process. But creating one is generally an easy thing to do with the help of an estate planning attorney.
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a will in Florida:
- Decide how you will be writing your will. You can either look for a will kit, search for an online template, or hire yourself a lawyer. Beware of online templates as simple mistakes can create multiple problems to your will and render it invalid. It is best to consult an estate planning lawyer.
- Make an inventory of your assets and decide who is going to be your beneficiaries. It is important that you have a list of all your properties and liabilities. Beneficiaries are the people you want to receive a portion of your property when you die. It can be someone related to you, an organization, or a charity.
- If you have minor children or pets, you can designate a legal guardian for them. The legal guardian shall take care of the minor child until they reach maturity age. It is important to keep in mind that the guardian must be aware of their appointment and responsibilities.
- Select the executor of your will. An executor shall manage your assets and be responsible for working with the probate proceedings to ensure that all your wishes will be followed.
- Sign your will with the witnesses present.
- Make sure to store your will in a safe place.
It is a common misconception that a will is only for people who own a lot of properties. However, you can write a will to protect the assets that you have and ensure that your loved ones will receive a fair share of it.
Writing a will does not necessarily need to take place when you’re already old, you can start executing one even if you’re still a young adult.
The Estate Plan
The Estate Plan Law Firm focuses on providing estate plan services in Coral Gables, Fl. One of its primary areas of practice is helping its clients to create a will.
The Estate Plan Law Firm will make sure that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. The law firm will also ensure that your will has complied with all the necessary requirements to make it legally binding.
Have questions about how to get started on your estate plan or estate needs?
Have questions about how to get started
on your estate plan or estate needs?
Contact the experienced estate planning professionals at The Estate Plan
by calling us at (305) 677-8489.
Contact the experienced estate planning professionals at The Estate Plan by calling us at