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Can I Use a Simple Will in Florida?

Apr 6, 2022 | Estate Planning Legal Blogs | Elder Law P.A

In Florida, there are several types of wills and one of them is called the “simple will.” The simple will is where the testator (will-maker) states that everything he/she owns before death will all go to the spouse after death. However, if the spouse dies before the testator, then everything will go to the children in equal amounts. In most cases, everything is distributed evenly and there are no disputes. To write a simple will Florida is a good place to be and helps keep the cost of making a will low.

Creating a simple will is possible as long as the number of beneficiaries is not large, the assets are limited, and the most important thing is that there is harmony in the family. For example, if you have no spouse but have three children, it is important that they all get along. If there are disagreements among the children or one child feels that he/she deserves more of your estate than the others, then a simple will Florida probably won’t be a good answer for you. An experienced estate lawyer can be of great help in creating a will in Florida in such complex scenarios.

Templates

To create a simple will, there are many templates available online and all you have to do is fill in the important details. These do-it-yourself wills can cost anywhere from $50-$150. But before completing the simple will Florida, you still need to abide by the laws that govern wills in the State. The document has to be signed in the presence of two witnesses, at the end of the document, in order to be valid. However, it does not have to be notarized.

While creating a will in Florida that is a “simple will” may suffice when the assets are limited and there are a small number of beneficiaries, a simple will can turn out to be a disaster if you miss notating something of importance. For example, you may have forgotten to add an alternate beneficiary, and the current one listed dies at the same time as you. The courts would have to then decide what to do with your assets that no longer have a specified place to go. Or you may forget to name an executor and, again, if it comes time for probate, the courts will have to choose an individual for you; this person may not have been your preferred choice.

With a simple will Florida, there is no setting up complex financial arrangements, donating assets to a charity, or specifying gifts to people unknown to your family.

Checklist for Creating a Simple Will in Florida

  1. First, make a list of all your assets. This includes your investments, home, vehicles, business, bank accounts, jewelry, etc.
  2. Next, know what assets to include in your will.
  3. Make a list of all your beneficiaries.
  4. Determine which beneficiary will get what part of your estate. For example, you may want to leave your car for your only son and the jewelry for your daughter.
  5. Select a personal representative (executor) to handle your estate. This individual can be one of your listed heirs, a friend, a business colleague, a lawyer, etc.
  6. If you have children under 16 years of age, select a guardian for them.
  7. Make a rough draft of the will, proof it for grammar and typos, and then have it typed (preferably) or printed. In Florida, oral wills are not valid.
  8. When starting with the creation of the will, include the statement that this is the testator’s last will and testament, and that it revokes or cancels any previous wills.
  9. In order for the will to be valid in Florida, it needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must be of sound mind and be able to comprehend what they are signing. The two witnesses should generally not be your beneficiaries.
  10. Store the will in a safe place and give the executor a copy of the will.
  11. The simple will in Florida does not need to be notarized.

What Happens if I Do Not Make a Will?

There is no law in Florida stating that a will is mandatory. However, if you die without creating a will in Florida, your estate will be distributed according to intestacy laws. This means that the government will distribute your assets based on the state’s laws, and some of your estate may go to a person you never intended to leave anything to. In general, the intestacy laws give the estate to your closest kin, starting with your spouse and children. If you do not have a spouse or children, the next in line are the grandparents or your parents, and the list continues with distant relatives. If the court determines that there is no living relative, then the government takes over the estate.

Who Should Create a Simple Will?

While there is no law mandating that everyone write a will, if you have significant assets and a complex family structure, it is highly recommended you make a will. For example, if you are single and have no assets, there is no point in making a will. But if you are married with two children and have some money, then a simple will is adequate. You can state exactly how much your spouse and children will get. However, if you own a business, have several homes, have numerous investments, and have a large complex family where not everyone gets along well, a simple will is not sufficient. In addition, if this is your second marriage and you have kids from both marriages, have young children who will need looking after, a complex will may be appropriate. The will allows you to distribute your assets to the named heirs according to your wishes so that there are no arguments after your death. The best advice is to seek consultation from an experienced estate lawyer who can advise you on the best way to create a will so that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death.

Common Mistakes People Make with Simple Wills

  • Improper execution. This would occur if the will creator has failed to follow certain steps. One of the most common mistakes is that many people sign their will, but then have the witnesses attest the will on different days. This is not a valid will under Florida law. The signature process has to be done in one sitting and at the same time.
  • The will has to be signed in the appropriate place. Mistakes people make are that they sign the first page and do not sign at the end of the document.
  • Stating in the will that the home can be sold, and the proceeds distributed to the beneficiaries. This is a major mistake as your primary residence in Florida (known as your homestead) is exempt from probate and, in most cases, is protected even from creditors. Once you state that the home can be sold, then the homestead protection is lost, and creditors can file suit to recoup the money.
  • Some people state in the will that they want the home to go to their children from a previous marriage. However, if you have married again and have more children, then automatically the homestead law will ensure that the home only goes to the married spouse and the estate may have to be shared with the children.
  • Finally, another major mistake people make is selecting a friend or a business colleague as a beneficiary of the home. When a person has no blood relation to you, then the new heir automatically loses the homestead protection and any creditors can recover money by demanding that the home be sold.

Why Select an Estate Lawyer to Draft a Will?

In general, you can make your own simple will without a lawyer. However, it is important to know that there are rules in Florida that one has to follow when creating a will and any mistakes can make the will invalid. In addition, you have to know that certain assets do not need to be listed in your will.

The best reason to select a lawyer for drafting a will is to avoid making mistakes; not knowing the Florida inheritance laws can have dire consequences on the heirs. An experienced estate attorney can educate you on Florida will laws, guide you through the process of will creation, and ensure that it is accurate.

By consulting with an estate lawyer, you can receive guidance on creating the will. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your assets will go to your intended loved ones without any hassles.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will in Florida?

While the cost of a will depends on the complexity and amount of assets, in general, expect to pay between $750-$1,200 to create a will with an experienced estate lawyer. It is well worth the cost to have peace of mind, knowing all the correct and legal terminology is used and that all your assets are properly taken care of when creating a will in Florida. Elder Law, P.A. has a staff of lawyers who have much experience and are well-versed in the laws of Florida regarding wills and trusts. They also have special expertise in matters that most often concern seniors. Call them today at 1-561-933-5077.

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