A last will, also known as a "will" or "last will and testament," is a legal document that allows individuals to specify how their property and assets should be distributed after their death. It enables you to designate beneficiaries, name an executor to handle the administration of your estate, appoint a guardian for minor children, and express any other final wishes you may have.
Here are some key points regarding a last will in Florida:
Testamentary Capacity: To create a valid last will in Florida, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, meaning you have the mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of creating a will.
Written Form: A last will must be in writing to be valid. It can be handwritten (holographic will), typed, or printed. It's recommended to have it typed or printed for clarity and to avoid potential issues with interpretation.
Signature: You, as the testator (the person creating the will), must sign the document at the end. If you are physically unable to sign, you may direct someone else to sign on your behalf in your presence and at your direction.
Witnesses: The will must be witnessed by two competent witnesses who are at least 18 years old. These witnesses should not be beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries named in the will. They must sign the will in your presence and in the presence of each other.
Self-Proving Affidavit: In Florida, it's common to include a self-proving affidavit with the will. This affidavit is a sworn statement signed by the testator and witnesses in the presence of a notary public, affirming that the will was executed correctly. Adding a self-proving affidavit can simplify the probate process later on.
Personal Representative: You can name an executor or personal representative in your will, who will be responsible for administering your estate and carrying out your wishes. It's crucial to choose someone trustworthy and capable of fulfilling this role.
It's important to keep your will in a safe place, such as a secure file or with an attorney, and inform your loved ones of its existence and location. If you decide to make changes or updates to your will, it's advisable to create a new one or execute a codicil, which is a separate document used to modify specific provisions of an existing will.
While it's possible to create a will without an attorney's assistance, consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can ensure that your will complies with Florida laws and adequately addresses your specific circumstances and wishes.