Last Will and Testament
Anyone who is 18 years of age or more and of sound mind, or is an emancipated minor, can make a Will. A male individual creating a Will is referred to as the testator, and a female as the testatrix. The validity of a Will is determined by the law at the time of death. Testamentary capacity (whether or not you are of sound mind) is determined on the day and at the time the Will is executed. A Will has no effect until is has been probated, a state court proceeding.
Except for the provisions for a (1) spouse; (2) family allowance; (3) exempt property; (4) pretermitted spouse or children; and (5) homestead, a testator has the legal right to devise his assets and property to any person or persons, and is not required by law to leave assets and/or property to his next of kin.
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. Section 732.502, a Will must be in writing, and the testator must sign the Will at the end. In the presence of at least two attesting witnesses, the testator must sign or acknowledge that he previously signed the Will, or that another person has subscribed the testator’s name to it, directed by the testator. The witnesses must sign the Will both in the presence of the testator, and the presence of each other. In order for a Will to be valid, it must be executed according to the formalities required by law. (A common basis for the Court to revoke a Will is because the witnesses and testator were not all together when the Will was executed.)
- Can a Will be signed by an “X” mark?
- Can the Court make exceptions for execution of a Will depending on the health and medical circumstances of the testator?
- Does a Will have to be signed in the presence of a Notary Public?
- What is “self-proof” of a Will?
- Can a Will be handwritten?
- What is a Codicil?
These are questions and concerns frequently made by clients contemplating the correct estate plan for their particular situation. And there are many more. Before you decide on the plan appropriate for you, we will have discussed the legal requirements of a valid Will, as well as the pros and cons of a Will vs Trust. You will then be in a position to make an educated decision as to the best plan for the distribution of your assets after your death. The result will be confidence and peace of mind, knowing that you have taken the steps necessary to help protect the financial well-being of not only yourself, but your loved ones, too.
If you die without any estate plan at all, the State will decide how your property shall be allocated. Decisions such as these are too personal, and much too important to be made by anyone but you. I look forward to the opportunity to help you with your estate plan; a plan that will allow you to give what you want to who you want.