One of the most important estate planning documents is the last will and testament. It is a vital part of a good estate plan. Here at Mann Law, our estate and probate attorneys recognize the importance of a last will and testament. Our primary goal is to assist each client in drafting a will to properly to ensure their last wishes are clearly stated.
Personal Law: Last Will and Testament
The Value of Legal Assistance in Drafting a Will
The reading of the will can be difficult for loved ones, particularly if the bequests and devices are unexpected. Wills are often contested in court, making it essential they are properly prepared. While do-it-yourself wills can be quick and easy, they often lack essential details. In order to hold up in court, a last will and testament should be properly prepared. This document needs to be signed, witnessed, and notarized in order to be valid in the state of Florida.
Important Points to Keep in Mind
A will has no power and is inactive until you die. At that point, the executor named in the will begins the legal process of probate.
Most wills name a single executor to handle the estate, but more than one individual can be given this position. Naming an alternate executor is also recommended.
Having a valid will in place does not allow you to avoid probate. In fact, the will must be submitted to probate court to begin the process of managing debts and distributing the estate’s assets.
A will can be used to name guardians for minor children. Alternates should also be named in the event the primary guardian is not available to take on this responsibility.
A will can also dictate the preferred manner of burial. In addition to stating whether or not cremation or traditional burial is preferred, the will often includes details on the cemetery plot and funeral arrangements.
Beneficiaries cannot access their bequests until the will goes through probate. They do not have the right to take anything and should wait for the executor to distribute assets.
The estate and probate attorneys at Mann Law can help you avoid this situation by helping you to create a properly drafted will.
Legal Parts of a Last Will and Testament
In Florida, a last will and testament contains three specific parts – the body, the signing, and the attestation. In Florida, the rules for signing and attestation require the witnesses to sign the will in front of the testator (maker of the will), the notary, and other witnesses.
The body of the will includes each of the following important details:
– Name of the testator
– Statement that the document is the last will and testament of the testator
– Name of the executor
– Naming of the beneficiaries
– Special bequests and distributions
– Estate payments
Unfortunately, if you die without a will, the court takes over and determines who gets what according to the law. Your estate goes through the probate process and is distributed according to the laws of intestacy in Florida. In all likelihood, your estate is distributed differently than you would have liked. The estate and probate attorneys at Mann Law can help you avoid this situation by helping you to create a properly drafted will.