Estate planning is something many people think they must do when they are older, or become infirmed. Accidents and unexpected death occur randomly and all adults should take the time to put their affairs in order, in the event they become incapacitated and cannot speak for themselves, or they die. A Florida estate planning attorney can assist with drafting the necessary documents.
A Florida estate plan usually includes:
- A last will and testament, with guardianship if there are minor children,
- an advanced healthcare directive, and
- a durable power of attorney.
Purpose of a will.
A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and end of life issues outlined. An experienced probate attorney can make sure a will contains the legally necessary language so that a person’s wishes can be honored at the time of their death. A Florida will must be prepared properly, signed, witnessed, and notarized. Key provisions of a will usually include:
- Identification of the testator
- Identification of document as the last will and testament
- Appointment of the executor
- Distribution of personal property
- Bequests – defined as special or general.
- Payment of estate expenses – somewhat self-explanatory and concerns the creditors of the deceased testator (decedent). After admission to probate, notice is published in the local paper and will also be sent to all known creditors, who have 90 days to file a claim against the estate
- Distribution of residuary estate – A will should always designate who is to receive the residuary of the estate in some fashion whether that is “to my heirs in equal shares per stirpes” or “to my two children,
- Any other provisions testator requests so long at they are clear and pertain to asset distribution.
Florida has different types of wills.
- A Florida Pour Over Will is used when there is a revocable trust and instead of making the distributions to a single beneficiary or beneficiaries, the will generally make one distribution into the Trust. This type of will requires all of the other key provisions mentioned, but it essentially transfers the duty to distribute the estate assets to the trustee of the trust.
- A Florida Medicaid Will be used to create a supplemental trust fund in order to allow a spouse who is receiving Medicaid benefits for long-term care to continue eligibility after the other spouse dies.
- A Florida Will With a Testamentary Trust is a last will and testament in Florida that adds a trust fund for children or other beneficiaries, creating a trust that becomes effective upon the death of the testator which is different from a Florida revocable living trust.
- Holographic, or Written Wills are not allowed in Florida, but may be recognized if executed in another state that allows them.
Seek legal counsel.
A Last Will and Testament is just one very important element of estate planning and should be done with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney in Fort Pierce Florida. They can answer all relevant questions regarding will provisions and estate planning documents based on individual needs.
The Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm, P.L.
2940 S. 25th Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34981
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