One of the most important documents for estate planning is the will. It is this document that will govern what happens to your estate after your death. There are many types of wills in Florida. A will that is well-drafted and executed will ensure that your assets will be distributed in an efficient manner to the rightful heirs, according to your wishes.
What kinds of wills in Florida are acceptable? In general, it is recommended that a will be prepared in consultation with an estate planning lawyer who is familiar with Florida laws. The reason is that Florida has many requirements for will preparation, including having two witnesses who will sign the document. If strict compliance is not maintained with the laws of the state, the will may be considered invalid. The other consideration that many people may not know about is that there are different types of wills for estate planning in Florida. These different wills serve different purposes. What are the kinds of wills in Florida?
The Different Types of Wills in Florida for Estate Planning
- Simple will: The “simple will” is the most basic type of will. In the simple will, the testator (maker of the will) documents his or her assets, names the beneficiaries, and also appoints a personal representative (often referred to as an executor) to handle the probate process. With a simple will, you can also designate a person to be a guardian for your children under the age of 16. In general, the simple will has to be typed and printed.
- Pour-over will: Some families elect to have their assets placed in a trust. For families with a trust-based estate plan, another type of will is necessary, called the pour-over will. This particular type of will transfers any assets from probate into the trust after the decedent’s death. In doing so, these assets will not go through the probate process. The pour-over will is often recommended if the individual making the will forgets to title an asset into the trust. Having both a pour-over will and a trust will ensure that all your assets are eventually distributed according to the wishes stated in your trust.
- Mirror image: A mirror Image will is not the same as a joint will. For that matter, in Florida, a joint will is not valid and never created. Instead, a mirror image will is, in fact, two wills that are usually drafted by two unmarried persons or a married couple. The ‘mirror image will’ contains identical words with similar provisions, and the only difference is the identification name of the partner/spouse. For example, each partner may state that he or she is giving all the assets to the surviving spouse upon death.
- Testamentary trust: A testamentary trust is a trust that is created as part of a complex will. The existence of the trust does not come into play until after the death of the decedent. When the will is admitted to probate, the costs are funded with the assets in the trust. Because of the complex nature of testamentary trust, it is not commonly created today. To make a testamentary trust, the individual must be 18 years or older and be of sound mind. He or she should have the ability to understand the significance of a trust, the nature of the disposition of the trust, and how they relate to each other.
Other Types of Wills
- A holographic will (handwritten will) is only acceptable in Florida if it abides by Florida law and is witnessed and signed by two witnesses.
- Oral wills are only spoken to another individual and they are not recognized in Florida.
- An Out-of-state will is one used when someone moves to Florida, having created a will in a different state. As long as the will that is made in another state meets the Florida criteria (see below), it will be considered valid.
Requirements for a Will in Florida
No matter what types of wills are in Florida are made, they all have to meet the guidelines as stated in Florida law, which include the following:
- It has to be in writing; an oral will is not acceptable.
- The testator must sign the will at the end of the document in the presence of two witnesses.
- The two witnesses must also sign the document after the testator has signed it. The witnesses must be of sound mind and know that a will is being attested.
What kinds of wills in Florida are the best? If you are considering making a will and are unsure what types of wills in Florida would be best in your circumstances, and/or you don’t know how to make one, consult with a lawyer who is familiar with and knowledgeable about the laws in Florida. An experienced attorney can educate and guide you through the steps. By making a well-drafted will, you will ensure that your estate goes to your chosen loved ones and that there won’t be any problems after you’re gone. Elder Law, P.A. is a well-established firm with expertise in the will process according to Florida law. Call them today at 1-561-933-5074 to get started.