Many people would prefer to have some control over what happens to their property when they die. People who die intestate, without a will, are subject to the Florida intestacy laws. Their property will be distributed based on laws that distribute property to family members, with priority to the people most closely related to the deceased. An invalid will can also cause intestacy laws to be applied. If you want to have a say in the distribution of your property, it is crucial to retain an experienced attorney who can create a valid and properly executed will. At the Law Offices of Stephen J. Press, our West Palm Beach wills lawyer can work with you to make sure that your wishes are properly set forth in a will.Florida Requirements for Wills
If you do not make a will, Florida intestacy law governs the rights of your survivors to inherit your property after your death. When there is no valid will in place, your estate is distributed by the probate court according to who is most closely related to you. If your spouse survives you, and you either have no children or have children only with the spouse who survived, she receives the entire estate. If not, there are other close relatives who will be in line to inherit. In order to control who receives your property upon your death, you will need to have a valid will prepared. The validity of the will hinges on whether a will meets certain formalities found in the Florida Probate Code.
You need to be of sound mind and at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor to make a valid will. Your will needs to be in writing, and it must be signed by you at the end of the document. You must also have two witnesses sign your will in the presence of each other and you. A wills attorney in West Palm Beach can advise you on choosing witnesses. The witnesses can be beneficiaries, but it is often preferable to have the witnesses be people who do not have an interest in the will so that the will is not subject to a will contest.Contents of a Florida Will
Wills have certain key components and provisions. They should identify who the person making the will (known as a testator) is. They also need to identify the document as a last will and testament. They should appoint an executor to make sure that the objectives within the will are carried out. They need to specify how the personal property of the testator will be distributed. The will should set forth how you want the assets to be distributed, whether this is "per stirpes" or "per capita." If the will does not specify, Florida law will control. They may make specific or general bequests, which are gifts to particular people. For example, if you are leaving your classic Camaro to your niece in your will, you would be making a specific bequest. A West Palm Beach wills attorney can help make sure that the bequests in a will are clearly described.
The will should address how estate expenses will be paid. It should also address what happens to any property that is not specifically described as a personal property distribution or bequest in the will, and that is not sold to pay off creditors or debts.Exclusions
Certain kinds of wills are expressly excluded from recognition under Florida law. A handwritten will without witnesses is not recognized as being valid. Florida courts will not recognize holographic wills, even if they are valid in another jurisdiction where they were created. Oral wills are also not recognized under Florida law.Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Our attorneys understand that it can be very difficult to think about the end of your life. We can work with you to craft the appropriate will to fit your unique circumstances. We represent clients in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Pembroke Pines, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Davie, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Indiantown, Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach, and Palm City, as well as other cities in Palm Beach, Broward, and Martin Counties. Contact us at (888) 808-2772 or via our online form to set up an appointment with a wills lawyer in the West Palm Beach area.