Estate Planning Tip: If Your Will Isn’t Signed Properly, It Could Be Invalid

Will estate planningEstate planning       for Clearwater,        St. Petersburg and      Florida residents

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:

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. 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 one-minute video on the proper signing of a will.

The Signing of a Will

No 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 Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date.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.

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What Is a Trust?

Trusts and estate planningTrust and estate planning in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout Florida

A trust is a legal entity that holds title to property (real or personal) for the benefit of one or more people, charities, pets, etc. Property titled in the name of a trust avoids probate. Therefore, administering a trust can take substantially less time than probate. A trust conventionally arises when property is transferred by one party to be held by another party for the benefit of a third party, although it is also possible for a legal owner to create a trust of property without transferring it to anyone else, simply by declaring that the property will henceforth be held trusts and estate plansfor the benefit of the beneficiary. The beneficiaries are beneficial (or equitable) owners of the trust property. Either immediately or eventually, the beneficiaries will receive income from the trust property, or they will receive the property itself. The extent of a beneficiary’s interest depends on the wording of the trust document. One beneficiary may be entitled to income (for example, interest from a bank account), whereas another may be entitled to the entirety of the trust property when he attains the age of twenty-five years. For estate planning purposes, at the owner’s death, there is a both a cost savings and time savings advantage related to probate costs and distributions of assets in having certain real property in a land trust.

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

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.
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Estate Obligations: What are Probate Assets?

Probate administration only applies to probate assets.

Probate assets are those assets that the decedent owned in his or her sole name at death, or that were owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners and lacked a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death.

For example:

A bank account or investment account in the sole name of a decedent is a probate asset, but a bank account or investment account owned by the decedent and payable on death or transferable on death to another, or held jointly with rights of survivorship with another, is not a probate asset.

A life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account that is payable to a specific beneficiary is not a probate asset, but a life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account payable to the decedent’s estate is a probate asset.

Real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, or in the name of the decedent and another person as tenants in common, is a probate asset (unless it is homestead property), but real estate titled in the name of the decedent and one or more other persons as joint tenants with rights of survivorship is not a probate asset.

Property owned by husband and wife as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset on the death of the first spouse to die, but goes automatically to the surviving spouse.

This list is not exclusive, but is intended to be illustrative.

The information above 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.
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