A will is a critical part of a strong estate plan. Just as you plan for retirement and other life milestones, your will allows you to plan for how asset distribution and other matters should be handled after your death. Without a valid will, the Florida court will decide who gets what, which could go against your wishes.

941 Law Help can assist you in drafting your will and counsel you in all areas of estate planning. Our Sarasota wills lawyer will help ensure your wishes for the future are properly carried out.

What Is a Will?

A last will and testament is a legal document that gives instructions from the testator—the person who makes the will—for how they want their assets distributed after death. Wills go through a process called probate. In this process the court validates the will and authorizes the personal representative, also called an executor, to distribute property in accordance with the testator’s wishes.

Who Should Have a Will?

Every adult or emancipated minor with assets and property should have a will in Florida. Without a will your property may not go to the people that you intended.

What Should Be Included in Your Will?

Your will should name beneficiaries for your property and assets. It should also name a person you trust to act as your personal representative in settling your estate. It is wise to add an alternate representative in case the first person you name is unavailable or unwilling to serve.

You can also nominate a guardian for your children should you die before they reach adulthood. If you have pets, you can name someone to care for them as well.

Why Should You Have a Will in Sarasota?

Having a will means your assets will go to the people you wish to inherit them. You can be assured your minor children will be cared for if you die unexpectedly.

Control Distribution of Your Assets

With a valid will you control how your assets are distributed after your death. Your personal representative will pay any debts and taxes your estate owes and then give the remaining assets to those people you have named as beneficiaries. Without a will to give you this assurance, your property could end up going to relatives who you did not want to inherit your hard-earned assets.

Appoint a Guardian for Your Minor Children

If you have minor children consider what would happen if your spouse should suddenly pass away as well, is already deceased, or is unable to care for your children. If you do not have a guardian named in your will, the court will make the guardianship decision for you.

The court will typically look to family members for this responsibility. If there are no family members or close friends willing to care for your child, they could potentially be put into the foster system. You can see how important it is to name a trusted person as guardian in your will so that your children are well cared for into the future.

Establish Plans for the Unexpected

By establishing plans for the unexpected through a will, you assure that your family is protected. Since none of us know what the future holds, by putting a will in place now you will be better prepared for whatever is to come.

How to Make a Will in Sarasota, FL

To make a will, consider the property and assets that you own and who you wish to have them. Also, think about your debts and how they will reduce the assets you leave to people. Let the people you are considering as executor and guardian for minor children know that they are being considered. This way they can opt out now if they do not want those responsibilities and you can find someone else.

Once it comes time to draft your will, you can do it yourself or have it prepared by an attorney. Your lawyer can also help you think through everything to include in your will.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Florida?

If you die without a will, your property will pass to your closest family members according to Florida’s intestate succession laws. Who gets what depends on the relatives you have. For example, if you are married with no children, your spouse gets everything. If you have children but no spouse, your children inherit everything. It gets more complicated if either you or your spouse have children from another relationship.

Only property that would pass through probate is subject to intestacy rules. Properties in living trusts, retirement accounts and life insurance with named beneficiaries, and payable-on-death bank accounts are some of the assets that go right to heirs and not through probate.

Will FAQs

What are the requirements of a valid will in Sarasota? 

To make a valid will you must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old or a legally emancipated minor. The will must be in writing, and you must sign it in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign your will in front of you and in front of each other.

If you wish to make your will self-proving, which can potentially speed up the probate process, you can have it notarized. But having a will notarized is not required in Florida.

Do I need a lawyer to make a will?

You are not required to use a lawyer to make a will in Florida. However, a will lawyer in Sarasota will make sure that your will is properly drafted and executed to ensure it is legally valid and greatly reduce the chances of running into issues during probate. If you have a complex estate or believe that your will may be contested, you should get the help of an attorney to make sure your wishes and beneficiaries are protected.

Do I need a will even if I don’t have significant assets? 

Even if you do not have significant assets, you should probably have a will. Without one, unless all of the bank accounts or other assets you own have named beneficiaries or are included in a trust, properties may not go to those individuals you want to inherit them.

Reach Out to Our Wills Lawyer in Sarasota, FL for Help

We know that it can be hard to imagine and plan for a time when you are no longer here. Nobody likes to think about death and how their families will manage once they are gone. But by having a valid will in place you will help assure that your loved ones are financially protected.

At 941 Law, our Sarasota wills attorney will guide you throughout the process of drafting a will. We will help you determine what your will should include and make sure that it is properly executed in accordance with Florida law. In addition to your will, we can assist you with developing an overall estate plan.

Call 941-265-2733 or use our online form to set up a time to speak with us.