Having a valid will in place helps make sure that your property passes according to your wishes. In Florida, if you die without a will, your assets will be transferred based on the state's intestacy laws, which place priority on family members that are closely related to you. By knowing the basics of what goes into a simple will, you can better guard against unintended consequences regarding your property after you pass away.
In Florida, a will can only be made by someone who is at least 18 years old and of "sound mind." This just means that you are mentally competent enough to understand the extent of your property and that you are making a will. Florida wills can be typed or handwritten. However, a handwritten will must meet the same requirements as a typed will, meaning that it must be signed by you in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must also sign the document.
Terms of Distribution
You have tremendous flexibility in determining how to dispose of your property through a Florida will. One approach is to list each asset and then specify who should receive it after your death. As an alternative, you may choose to give a portion of all of your assets, referred to as your estate, to named individuals. For instance, you might choose to bequeath two-thirds of your estate to your bother and one-third to your son. You are not limited to people when it comes to naming beneficiaries of your will, meaning you could also name an organization – like a charity – to receive some or all of your estate.
You may also choose to name an executor in your will. It is the job of the executor to collect your property, submit your will to the probate court, pay your outstanding debts and then transfer the property to your heirs. If you do not name this person in your will, the probate court will appoint a personal representative to carry out the same duties. It's important to appoint a person who is responsible and who has agreed to serve. You may also choose to name one or more successor executors to be appointed in the event that your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
If you have minor children, you may also want to appoint someone to serve as guardian. It will be the guardian's job to care for your child after your death until he or she reaches adulthood. You can also appoint either the same or a separate person to manage the child's finances and inheritance until he or she is of a suitable age. Similar to the executor, you may choose to appoint one ore more successor guardians in the event that your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.