How to Make a Will in Florida - Easy Instructions
Do you know what will happen to your money and assets when you’re gone? If you’re not sure, you probably need a will. People often think creating a will is a long and complicated process.
An estate planning lawyer in Florida can help you with the details of drafting your will and ensuring it will hold up in probate court, but the process can actually be really simple.
What are some easy instructions for how to make a will and Florida?
What we're going to do first is we'll go over the requirements.
First of all, the person making the will, has to be of sound mind – has to be competent. That means they can't have advanced dementia, they have to be able to understand what's going on around them, and they need to be able to be making their will intelligently. They have to be an adult – they have to be over the age of 18. So, step number one: Be competent.
Step number two is you must understand that it has to be in writing. You can't give verbal instructions and there's no dying declarations for what the will is going to be. It has to be in writing.
Step number three is it has to be signed. That's not necessarily a formal signature, though. Some people sign by marking an X. Some people sign with a symbol. There are people who don't know how to sign or because of a physical disability cannot sign, and a notary can do it if they just don't have the capacity. Or they can just make any type of mark whatsoever. But of course, if it's possible, your normal typical signature is what's going to be preferred.
It must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. They can be any two witnesses, even someone who is inheriting from the will themselves. We don't advise that because that can create some issues where if someone else wants to question the will or whether or not the will was signed with undue influence, but it is technically allowed.
That's really it: Competent, in writing, signature in front of two witnesses.
Those are the Easy Bake instructions for how to make a will. And then, that naturally lends itself to, “should I hire a lawyer?” Listen, there are free forms on the internet. Some of them are fine and some of them are going to get you into a lot of trouble, so it's a little bit of a buyer beware. Of course, my advice is going to be if you want to will, you should go to an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney in the state of Florida. We can help make sure that the will is filled out properly, that it's beyond reproach, that no one's going to be able to challenge it, and things like that.
One of the conversations that I will get into with my clients who come to me with the will is: Are you sure that's all you want? Because a will is really a one-way ticket to probate court. A will does nothing for you or your heirs or your family until after you passed away and it's presented to a judge.
Some people think that it will avoid probate, but a will 100% is inviting a probate. If you want to avoid probate, you're typically talking about a revocable trust or a revocable living trust or a living trust. Those are different terms that mean the exact same thing. Get your assets into a trust with the help of an attorney, and the assets that are in the trust will avoid having to go to through the court process after you pass away.
Or, I should say it's more likely that you will not have to go to court because anyone can take anyone to court for any reason. But you don't have to go to court if you have a proper revocable living trust that's not challenged. So again, those are your easy instructions for how to create a will I hope that you do hire an attorney because you're being pennywise and pound foolish or however that saying goes.
If you aren't interested in estate planning, Medicaid planning, long term care asset protection planning, but you have a will, or if your loved one had a will – and only a will, you have to go through probate. Don’t worry, though. We have a wonderful probate team here at Elder Needs Law as well. So, if you need help with any of those services, anywhere in Florida, please schedule a consultation today.
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