Some Florida residents have the misconception that writing a will is unnecessary unless they are wealthy. This is in most cases not true, and people may benefit from having one in place no matter the size of their estates. Having a valid will can ensure that the testator’s assets are distributed to the intended beneficiaries instead of being subject to the state’s law of intestacy, which in some cases may produce a far different result than the one the testator had wanted.
In order to be considered valid, a written will must in most states be signed in the presence of two witnesses. The document must clearly state that it is the testator’s will, and an executor who will be tasked with administering it must also be named. The will must also be written while the person writing it is of sound mind to do so.
Because an executor will have several legal duties to fulfill, the choice must be made carefully. Adults who do not have felony convictions may be chosen. They will be required to pay the estate’s taxes, notify creditors and intended beneficiaries and pass the assets according to the will’s provisions. In addition to naming primary beneficiaries, people may also want to name contingent ones in the event something happens to the primary intended beneficiary. Finally, wills should be reviewed regularly and updated as needed to reflect major life changes as they occur.
People may find it helpful to seek the assistance of an estate planning attorney when they are wanting to write their will. Doing so may help avoid a later will contest after the person has passed away. An attorney may be better able to make certain the will is written in a legally consistent manner and that all assets have been accounted for to avoid litigation.