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What is a Will?
Avoid Future Disputes with Help from Crary Buchanan
Generally speaking, a will is a written document that indicates how your financial assets and personal belongings will be distributed when you die. It is a formal document and must be considered legally valid in order to be enacted. In the state of Florida, there are certain factors that play into the validity of your will:
- Your will must be written down.
- You must be at least 18 years old to write a will
- You must be of sound mind when you sign your will.
- You (the testator), must have your will notarized in the presences of witnesses.
- Your will must be proven legitimate through a legal process called probate after your death.
Unlike trusts and living trusts, wills are not finalized until you die. What does this mean? You can change your will at any time before you death. If you want to change your will or add to it, you are allowed to draw a new one or add a codicil (an amendment) to your existing document. Be aware: You cannot add or take away portions of your will simply by crossing them out on the paper. Doing so may cause all or some of your will to become invalid. To avoid nullifying your will at any point, consult a qualified legal professional, such as our attorneys at Crary Buchanan, to make sure that you are following the necessary legal formalities.
According to the Florida State Bar Association, wills allow you to decide who gets your property, assets and belongings after you die – instead of the state law. When you establish a will, you may name an executor of your estate, too. An executor is a personal representative who will manage your estate after you die. An executor may be an individual (such as a family member), a bank, or a trust company. If you have children who are minors, you can name guardians for them in your will, as well. You may also make gifts to charities that become effective in the event of your death.
Wills vs. Trusts
What is the difference between a will and a trust? There are a variety of differences between wills and trusts. For instance, a trust does not usually replace a will. Many times, individuals establish trusts to deal with specific assets – not their entire estate. For example, if you own a specific piece of property, you may want to establish a trust so that it can be dealt with separately. There are two basic types of trusts: living and testamentary. A testamentary trust is somewhat like a will in that it is established only after the trust maker dies. A living trust is active while the trust maker lives, and may include instructions involving his / her care in the event of serious illness or impairment.
Dealing with a dispute? Call our Port St. Lucie attorneys at (888) 899-8161!
Most of the time, will disputes are the result of disgruntled friends or loved ones who feel slighted by the amount of money or property the deceased left them. Because so many will disputes are the result of hurt feelings, it may be difficult to convince the court that a will is truly invalid. If you are attempting to dispute a will because you are upset about what you received (or didn’t receive) from the deceased, your case may be difficult to prove in court. However, there are legitimate reasons to dispute a will.
If you believe that your family member or loved one was coerced into signing a will, the document should not be upheld in court. Additionally, an individual must be of sound mind to sign a valid will. If you believe that the deceased was not of sound mind when he / she singed the will, contact Crary Buchanan today. We understand that wills are invalid unless they are singed by the testator, and the signing must be witnessed by an individual and notarized.
Our firm has more than 85 years’ experience in helping individuals establish legally binding wills that are designed to distribute their assets upon death. We are here to establish your wills validity throughout the entire process and help avoid contention in the future. We can also assist in dispute matters, whether this means helping you prove that a will is valid, or preventing a disgruntled family member from contending the legalities of the will. Schedule your consultation with our firm and we can further discuss your case.
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