Last Will & Testament
Caring.com recently did a study on how many adults in the U.S. have a Will—and the results were fairly dismaying. Overall, the number of adult Americans that have a Will or another type of estate planning document has decreased by almost 25 percent since 2017. Older adults—who actually need an estate plan or Will the most—are even less likely to have a Will in 2020 than they were in 2019 (the number of older and middle-aged adults with a Will dropped by 20 percent during that time period). More people were uncertain of how to go about “getting” a Will in 2020 than in prior years. Virtually every adult could benefit from having, at a minimum, a Last Will and Testament, and even better, a comprehensive estate plan.
While estate planning, or even having a Last Will and Testament prepared can be something you may perceive as difficult or unpleasant, it is nowhere near as unpleasant as the situation you will leave your loved ones in if you fail to plan. At the end of the day, it is about peace of mind, and ensuring your loved ones have the time to grieve without worrying about the mess they will have to deal with regarding your estate. As an experienced Orlando estate planning lawyer, I (Lea Anne Groover), will help make the estate planning process as painless as possible. I understand that many adults are unsure of what to expect when considering estate planning. I will always go above and beyond to really listen to you—and every client—making absolutely sure I fully understand your concerns regarding having a Will or estate plan prepared.
Who Needs a Florida Last Will and Testament?
The short answer to this question is: every single adult. Having a Last Will and Testament is vitally important for declaring your intent, clearly laying out what you want to happen to your assets in the event of your death and choosing a guardian for your minor children. A Last Will and Testament is the most basic estate planning document. You can do the things listed above, and even tell your loved ones what type of funeral you want, and what you want to happen to your remains.
Perhaps your Last Will and Testament can be relatively simple. You might want to leave your entire estate to your surviving spouse, with your spouse leaving 100 percent to your shared children—and if you both died at the same time, the entire estate would go to your children. Things can get much more complex, however, based on the sequence of death, therefore, it is extremely important that your wishes always be clearly spelled out.
In the end, every adult should have a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Designation of a Healthcare Surrogate, and a Living Will at a minimum. Any estate planning documents you have should be looked at every three to five years, at a minimum. Virtually everyone’s life goes through many changes, including marriage, divorce, having children, changing jobs, getting older, facing retirement, or having a special needs child.
What are the Most Important Elements of a Florida Last Will and Testament?
If you have minor children, perhaps the most important element of your Last Will and Testament is the designation of a Guardian. Without this designation, unless you have a surviving spouse (the other parent of your minor children), then a Florida court will determine who will raise your children, and who will be in charge of managing finances for the children. The court could conceivably choose a person you would not ever want to raise your children. For this reason alone, it is imperative that you have a will if you have minor children.
You will name an Executor for your Will—the person who will handle the assets you are leaving behind, according to your written wishes. (An Executor is also known as a Personal Representative). You will name beneficiaries in your Will, according to who you want to receive which of your assets. Your Will can be as specific or as broad as you choose, although you do not want to leave matters open to interpretation.
What are the Florida Requirements Pertaining to a Last Will and Testament?
In the state of Florida, you must be at least 18 years of age, or an emancipated minor, to make a Will. You must be of sound mind, meaning you are capable of reasoning and making decisions at the time you sign the Will. Two competent witnesses must be present when you sign your Florida Will for it to be valid; the witnesses must sign the will in your presence, and in the presence of one another. Florida requires that all Wills be written—holographic or verbal Wills are not recognized as valid.
What Happens if You Die in Florida Without a Last Will and Testament?
If you should die without a Will in the state of Florida, you are said to have died intestate, and Florida’s laws of intestacy will prevail when determining who will have your assets, and who will be the guardian for your children. When it is a relatively simple matter to have a Last Will and Testament prepared, you most certainly would not want to leave your loved ones to deal with a mess caused by your having no Will.
How Groover Law Can Help You Prepare a Last Will and Testament
If you are ready to have a Last Will and Testament prepared, I can offer a clear, unique graphic illustrating what to expect—the steps you will take throughout the process. I believe strongly in being upfront and clear regarding the time involved, as well as the overall cost. When you choose Groover Law, I will help you develop a concrete plan of action to address all your concerns regarding an estate plan. Contact me today at Groover Law for a highly experienced, highly-skilled Orlando estate planning lawyer.