What is a Will?
A question clients always ask is, What is a Will? and why do I need one? As stated in our Estate Planning page, we discuss the importance of having a Will prepared as part of your Estate Planning. So what is a Will? A Will is a document sometimes referred to as the “last will and testament”. A Will is a document provides your final wishes and how you wish your estate to be distributed. A Will will specify how certain assets will be distributed in the event of your death. Generally you cannot put restraints or restrictions on the assets you are distributing in your Will [with certain exceptions]
In Florida, a Will requires not only the person who’s estate it is to sign but also to have the Will witnessed by two different witnesses. Although a notary is not required, it can be an extra security feature so no disputes can arise as to whether you signed the Will or not. The goal is to make sure that no one can contest the Will or your wishes. If any disputes arise such will cost your Estate more money and problems for your loved ones or intended heirs. Another major requirement to a Will is you must be of sound mind when executing the Will. Basically this means you understand what assets you have and and you understand how you wish to have those assets distributed.
Furthermore, you will want you Will to specify who you want to be in charge when you pass away – in Florida we call this person the Personal Representative [other States refer to this person as the Executor of the Estate]. Other items you generally will find in a Will are how debts and your taxes will be paid, your funeral costs, provisions for charities, provisions for spouse, provisions for children and other heirs, asking for appointing for Guardians for underage children, provisions for pets, and it can also serve as a way to create a provision for a Trust [which we discuss on our What is a Trust page].
Upon your passing, your original Will and original codicil(s) [amendments to original Will], will have to be sent to the Clerks office of the County in which probate will occur. [check out our page on What is Probate for more information]. It is important to keep the original Will and original Codicils [if any exists] in a very safe place where you and trusted individuals know where it is.
If you wish to meet with one of our lawyers to discuss drafting your Will or if you need your existing will updated please give us a call or contact us via email. We recommend always reviewing and/or updating your Estate Plan documents [including your Will] every 3 to 5 years. We look forward to helping you and your family – providing you Legal Insight for Peace of Mind!