A common question clients always ask us here at Katz & Associates is what exactly is a will and what does it consist of, and most often we are asked why do I need one? Sometimes referred to as the "last will and testament", a Will is a document that provides your final wishes and how you wish for your estate to be distributed. It specifies how certain assets are to be distributed in the event of your death.
It can consist of an executor, someone who is responsible for carrying out your final directive, and beneficiaries which are the ones that you name to handle your requests and inherit the property, possessions, or capital which you have left and intended for each particular individual.
Generally, you cannot put restraints or restrictions on the assets you are distributing in your Will (with certain exceptions). As stated on our Estate Planning page, we discuss the importance of having a Will prepared as part of your Estate Planning.
Something not always known is that there are four different types of wills, a simple will, a living will, a joint will, and a Testamentary Trust. Katz & Associates will speak to you about the type of will you need and which one will work best for your particular situation.
In Florida, a Will requires not only the person whose estate it is to sign but also to have the Will witnessed by two different witnesses. Although a notary is not required, it can be an extra security feature so no disputes can arise as to whether you signed the Will or not.
If you were to pass without a will, that is also known as being intestate. If this happens your assets will be distributed by the court per state law, which may not align with your intent.
The purpose of a will is to make sure that no one can contest your final wishes. If any disputes arise such will cost your Estate more money and problems for your loved ones or intended heirs. Another major requirement to a Will is you must be of sound mind when executing the Will. Essentially, this means you understand what assets you have and you understand how you wish to have those assets distributed.
Furthermore, you will want your Will to specify who you want to be in charge in the unfortunate event you pass away - in Florida we call this person the Personal Representative (other States refer to this person as the Executor of the Estate). Other items you generally will find in a Will are how debts and your taxes will be paid, your funeral costs, provisions for charities, provisions for a spouse, provisions for children and other heirs, asking for appointing for Guardians for underage children, provisions for pets, and it can also serve as a way to create a provision for a Trust (which we discuss on our What is a Trust? page).
Upon your passing, your original Will and original codicil(s) (amendments to original Will), will have to be sent to the Clerks office of the County in which probate will occur. (check out our page on What is Probate for more information). It is important to keep the original Will and original Codicils (if any exists) in a very safe place where you and trusted individuals know where it is.
We recommend always reviewing and/or updating your Estate Plan documents (including your Will) every 3 to 5 years or if there have been any changes of circumstance that you want to ensure are reflected in your final wishes.
If you wish to meet with one of our lawyers to discuss drafting your Will or if you need your existing will updated please give us a call or contact us via the form at the bottom of this page. We look forward to helping you and your family and providing you "Legal Insight for Peace of Mind"!
What is a Will?
What is a Trust?
What is Estate Planning?
What is Wealth Preservation?