Do I Need A Will?
Hardly anyone likes to think about death or dying, and planning ahead for this eventuality is something most people tend to want to delay. Estate planning isn’t something only wealthy people do, nor is it something only people who are sick and dying think about. To the contrary, planning ahead for the future can help you to feel more secure in the present, and regardless of how much – or how little – you own, having a properly drafted will is often the first practical step in estate planning. A will allows you to take an inventory of what you’ve accumulated thus far in your life, as well as to determine who you want to inherit it once you’re gone.
Requirements For A Will
A will controls the distribution of your property in the event of your death. In the state of Florida, there are certain requirements for drafting a will which must be met. These requirements are:
- You must be at least 18 years old;
- You must be of sound mind, which is the capacity to think, reason, and understand what it is you’re doing;
- Your will must be in writing – it’s not enough to simply tell someone your wishes; and
- Your will must be signed in the presence of witnesses, as well as a notary public.
The act of signing your will in the presence of witnesses, having your witnesses sign it, and having the document notarized is referred to as executing your will. In order for a will to be valid, it must be properly executed.
What to Include In Your Will
There are several things to consider when drafting a will. A major consideration is naming an executor. This person you name will be in charge of settling your estate after your death, taking care of such matters as:
- Taking inventory of the property and belongings you have at the time of death;
- Appraising and distributing assets, such as vehicles, furniture, and other belongings;
- Paying any taxes owed by your estate; and
- Settling any debts or creditor claims against your estate.
Being an executor for an estate is a serious responsibility. People often choose someone experienced in such matters, such as their lawyer or their accountant, to be their executor, in order to avoid placing extra burdens on their family and friends.
Another major consideration when drafting a will is choosing your beneficiaries. These are the people you name to inherit the property and belongings you have listed in your will. When naming beneficiaries, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Be specific. Don’t list people as “my son” or “my niece”; use their complete and proper names, as well their relationship to you.
- Designate primary and secondary beneficiaries. Your primary beneficiary is your first choice to receive your assets. Your secondary beneficiary is your second choice, in the event your first choice dies, or does not meet the qualifications, such as being too young. Naming a secondary beneficiary can save your estate from having to go through probate, and your assets from being given away against your wishes.
Contact Our Experienced Wills Lawyer Today
Drafting a will is often the first step in estate planning, and can provide the security of knowing your wishes will be carried out in the event of your passing. Contact our experienced Florida wills lawyer today to find out more about the benefits of having a will. At the Law Firm of William E. Raikes III, we have over 35 years’ experience in estate planning. Serving all of Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie, Vero Beach, Saint Lucie, and Indian River Counties, we’ll help you to draft and execute a will to reflect your desires and the needs of your family. No one should be without a will. Don’t delay; call us at (772) 595-6654 for a free consultation today.