Everyone who has a child, a family member they care about, or any property they would like to pass along to loved ones should have a last will and testament. Although most people do not like to think about this, preparing a will is a gift to the ones you leave behind. Our probate attorneys want to help you.
When you write your will, you must adhere to legal requirements to ensure a court will honor your wishes. A South Miami wills lawyer can guide you as you develop this important document.
Importance of Having a Will
A will specifies who receives property after the person making the will—called the testator—dies. When a testator has limited property and a small family, the will might be quite simple. People with significant assets or complicated family situations might have a more complicated will.
Wills are important because the law determines how someone’s property will be distributed if they die without one. In general, the spouse and children will receive the assets of someone who dies without a will, but there might be other people the testator would prefer to receive their property.
In addition, a court must conduct probate after someone dies. This process involves naming a representative to gather the deceased person’s property (the estate), pay their debts, and distribute anything that is left over to family members. A will usually names someone to take on this duty, but if the deceased person has no will, the court decides who should handle the estate.
Naming a Guardian for Minor Children
Parents should have wills to protect their minor children. When a parent dies suddenly and has not arranged for someone to raise their children in their absence, the state social services agency will take custody of the children and could name a guardian for them.
When possible, the agency will seek a family member to be the children’s guardian. The family member might be the person the parent would have chosen but it also could be someone the parent would not have trusted for this job. In some circumstances, such as when a deceased mother’s children have different fathers, siblings might be separated and raised in different homes.
A parent can name a guardian in their will. The Judge must still investigate the person’s background and confirm they are an appropriate candidate, but Judges will honor a parent’s wishes regarding guardianship whenever possible. A South Miami wills attorney can help a parent include their choice of guardian in the testamentary document.
Legal Requirements for Wills
The law has several requirements that must be followed for a will to be valid. The will must be either handwritten or typed; the court will not honor a testator’s oral directions if they do not put them in writing. The testator must sign the will in front of two adult witnesses who also must sign it in front of each other.
Florida law allows testators to make electronic wills. A testator can create their will online and it can also be signed and witnessed via video call. Florida Statute § 732.524 requires that electronic wills be stored with a qualified custodian, which is a business that has enacted certain privacy and electronic security safeguards.
A testator can revoke or change their will whenever they choose. Someone considering making changes to their will should consult a South Miami attorney about how to accomplish their goal and ensure the court respects it.
Contact a South Miami Wills Attorney Today
Deciding what happens to your children and property when you die is not something most people enjoy doing. However, doing the work of creating a will now can protect your property and family members later. It is also the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.