Estate planning: Is a Will good forever?

probate,signing a will,trust estate

If you change your will due to a wide variety of reasons, make sure it is still a legal document.

Your will is “good” until it is changed or revoked in the manner required by Florida law. The will of your estate may be changed as often as you desire while you are sane and not under undue influence, duress, or fraud, provided it is changed in the required manner. Changes in circumstances after the execution of the will, such as tax law amendments, deaths, marriage, divorce, birth of children, or even a substantial change in the nature or amount of your estate, may raise questions as to the adequacy of your will. All changes require a careful analysis and reconsideration of all the provisions of your will and may make it advisable to change the will to conform to the new situation.

Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

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Lack of estate planning: A couple lost control by not having a will.

 

A properly executed will puts you in control to decide who gets your estate willinstead of the law making the choice for you. You also may name the personal representative (executor) of your will as you choose, provided the one named can qualify under Florida law. A personal representative is one who manages an estate, and may be either an individual or a bank or trust company, subject to certain limitations.

Another option is to create a trust in a will, whereby the estate or a portion of the estate will be kept intact with income distributed or accumulated for the benefit of members of the family or others. Minors can be cared for without the expense of proceedings for guardianship of property, and a guardian may be named for minor children.

Kids CharityA will can determine how your estate assets are distributed after your passing, such as making gifts, to charities that not only benefit from your generosity, but can also benefit from lower estate taxes before and after your death. For example, the Pinellas Community Foundation supports many charity organizations and can help direct your gifts to your desired charities as well as provide advice on tax implications. You decide who bears any tax burden, rather than the law making that decisio
n.

If you die without a will (this is called dying “intestate”), your property will be distributed to your heirs according to a formula fixed by law. Your property does not go to the State of Florida unless there are absolutely no heirs at law, which is very unlikely. In other words, if you fail to make a will, the inheritance statute determines who gets your estate. The inheritance statute contains a rigid formula and makes no exception for those in unusual need.

When there is no will, the court appoints a personal representative, known or unknown to you, to manage your estate. The cost of probating may be greater than if you had planned your estate with a will, and the administration of your estate may be subject to greater court supervision. Don’t have a will? It’s another loss to those you left behind.

Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

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Is Your Will Official? Here are technicalities that could make it invalid…

A Will is a written document controlling the disposition of estate assets and cash at death. The laws of each state set the formal requirements for a wIll to be a legal will. Here are the laws in Florida regarding an official and valid will:

will and estate

Make sure your will is official.

1. The maker of the will (called the testator), must be at least 18 years old.

2. The testator must be of sound mind at the time they sign the will.

3. The will must be written to be an official document.

4. Important: The will must be witnessed and notarized in the special manner provided by law for wills.

5. It is necessary to follow exactly the formalities required for the execution of a will.

6. To be effective, the will must be proved in, and allowed by, the probate court.

Click on the image below to watch a short 1 minute video.

The Signing of a WillNo will becomes final until the death of the testator, and it may be changed or added to by the testator by drawing a new will or by a “codicil,” which is simply an addition or amendment executed with the same formalities of a will. A will’s terms cannot be changed by writing something in or crossing something out after the will is executed. In fact, writing on the will after its execution may invalidate part of the will or all of it.

Some of the content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.
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