Tampa Wills Attorney
What happens to your property after you die? If you don’t decide in advance, then the state of Florida will decide for you, chopping it up among your living relatives or keeping it for itself. A will provides legally enforceable instructions for the distribution of your assets after death. The Tampa wills attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group can help you identify your assets, assess your personal goals, and draft a valid will that accurately expresses your intentions. You can say or the state will say. Contact Strategic Counsel Law Group, and start today creating a will as part of a strategic and effective estate planning process.
Why Do I Need a Will?
Some people assume that even without a will, everything will go to their spouse or children. Others believe that creating a revocable living trust is a better option. But you cannot predict who will die in what order, and you might not want to limit the distribution of your estate to just your immediate family. And while revocable living trusts serve a valid and important purpose, they can’t do everything. A will is a fundamental part of your estate plan, regardless of whether you are also including trusts or distributing your estate through other means. A valid Florida will can accomplish all of the following:
Name an executor for your estate. The executor, also known as the administrator or personal representative, has a number of tasks to accomplish to see the will through probate and ensure the estate is distributed properly. Use the will to name an executor you know and trust to carry out these jobs diligently, so you have one less thing to worry about.
Appoint a guardian for your children. Whether you currently have minor children or could possibly have some in the future, you want to know they will be cared for should something happen to you and your spouse. The will is an appropriate place to name someone whom you know would be willing and able to provide a loving and nurturing home for your kids if you can’t be there.
Distribute your estate. Use a will to leave specific gifts of personal items of financial or sentimental value to specific individuals. It wouldn’t make financial sense to create different trusts to dispose of different pieces of property; the will is the better vehicle to leave a personal legacy to loved ones and let them know what they meant to you.
Capture your entire estate. Trusts only contain assets and funds that were placed into them. The will can make sure every piece of your estate is accounted for and distributed according to your wishes. If using trusts, the will can contain a “pour-over” provision to fund the trust with any part of your estate that wasn’t initially included.
What Is Required for a Valid Will in Florida?
Wills must be in writing to be valid in the state of Florida. By requiring a written will, Florida law means that it does not recognize oral wills. However, the will should be typed up and not handwritten. Wills that are entirely handwritten are known as holographic wills, and while some states recognize holographic wills as valid, Florida does not. A handwritten will might be accepted if it is signed and witnessed and meets the other requirements described below, but it is better to have it typed. If utilizing a qualified attorney to draft your will, of course it will be professionally prepared and acceptable to the probate court.
The will must be signed at the bottom by the person making the will, who is known in legal lingo as the testator. At least two witnesses must witness the testator’s signature and must also sign the will. If the testator cannot physically sign the will, the testator can direct another person to sign on the testator’s behalf. The witnesses must either witness the testator’s signature or the testator’s direction of another to sign the will.
The signatures don’t have to be notarized to make the will valid. However, a notarized will is considered “self-proving,” meaning the probate court will accept the will as being validly signed and witnessed. Without notarization, the judge might have to call in the witnesses to testify or provide affidavits regarding what they witnessed, which only adds unnecessary time and expense to the probate process.
The testator must be 18 years old or an emancipated minor to make a valid will. The testator must also be of sound mind when the will is made. Being of sound mind basically means that you know what is included in your estate and understand that you are making a will that disposes of your real and personal property.
Personalized Will Services in Tampa
Don’t try to make a will yourself or buy some generic one off the shelf. Such a will is not likely to meet all your needs and is more likely to be challenged or declared invalid. Instead, get custom help from an experienced and thoughtful estate planning attorney who will make sure to draft a valid will that meets your specific needs. At Strategic Counsel Law Group, our Tampa wills attorneys take the time to listen to your concerns and advise you on how best to put your will and estate plan together. Call us at 813-286-1700 today to get started on this vital and rewarding process.