Your last will and testament are designed to execute your final wishes after you pass away. A will helps your family divide your possessions and assets and take care of the financial aspects of your estate, such as paying off debts. Without a will, your estate will be handled according to state laws, which may go against what you truly desire for your family. While using an attorney to draft your will is not legally necessary, it is a good idea to have an estate planning lawyer review the document to ensure its legality. Here are the essential items you should state in your will.
Name an executor
The executor plays a vital role during probate, so it is one of the most important aspects to include in your will. The executor acts as a liaison between the family and probate court throughout the probate process. The executor is also in charge of establishing the estate bank account, settling debts, maintaining the estate, and distributing funds once the probate concludes. The executor should be trustworthy and gets along with most of the family, such as close friends or immediate family members.
Provide legal guardians for minor children
If you have children under 18, you will want to state a legal guardian for them in the event of your passing. If you do not name a guardian, Florida law will determine custody. In many cases, this is a surviving spouse or close relative. If you have any pets in your family, you may want to state who should take over ownership of them as well.
Divide personal property
You may want to provide a “letter of instruction” along with your will. This informal letter is your last message to your loved ones and details who will receive your possessions and why. Dividing up your possessions and assets can be stressful for family members, so it is essential to be as straightforward as possible about who should receive these items. You don’t need to list and name a person for every possession you own. Instead, choose the sentimental items that mean the most to you, such as family heirlooms, furniture, jewelry, or even photos. Other possessions with high monetary value should be included in this section, such as cars, boats, and motor homes. Intangible and intellectual property, such as copyrights, patents, and royalties, can also be included if applicable.
You can specify cash amounts from checking, savings, and other accounts to various friends and family members. Stocks and bonds are also allocated in this part of your will. You may also designate funds to donate to charity. However, these funds would not be distributed until the estate is settled and all debts and creditors are paid.
State ownership of real property
The beneficiaries of any tangible property assets you possess should be named in your will. Real property includes immovable assets such as land, homes, and timeshares. If you are a business owner, describe your intentions for the future of the business, such as who should take over ownership or whether the company should be dissolved.
Brevard county estate planning attorney
Executing a will can be tricky, especially with complex or high-value estates, so it is essential to have a lawyer take a look to ensure all your affairs are in order. Brian W. Hurd, our experienced estate planning attorney, will ensure your will is legally binding and guide you in drafting your will. Contact us on our website or call us at 321-453-5007 to schedule a consultation.