A Last Will and Testament is a written document which a person who is known as the testator writes down who are the heirs of their property upon their death. Florida law has requirements for a Will to be valid and it must be in written form, signed, dated and be witnessed by two other individuals.
A person may execute several different Wills over their lifetime which reflect different phases in a their life. The benefits of having a Will are many and beyond naming who is your heir, a Will provides for ways to protect your wealth and also protections or your family members.
A person who dies without a Will dies intestate. If you do not have a Will, Florida law determines who is your heir and entitled to receive your wealth. Many people think if you die without a Will, that the State of Florida will inherit your assets. Under Florida law, there are specific legal provisions that define who are your heir if you die intestate. Intestate heirs are determined by the Court and are found in your family tree including your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and extended family. Some individuals may name a beneficiary under a Will who is not the same person as an intestate heir. As a named heir under a Will, the beneficiary a person named under a Will is protected entitled to receive the legacy you have left for them under your Will, even if the intestate heirs receive nothing under the Will.
Beyond the ability to name the person who is to receive your wealth or your heir, a Will also allows you to create special provisions which enable your assets to be passed to your heirs using language which protects the legacy you want to leave for your heirs from their creditors or create a trust to provide for a young child if your heir is minor.
The expense of creating a Will is not cost prohibitive but having one in place can save your heirs quite a bit of time and expense upon your death. In addition, under Florida law, the Court follows the distributions under your Will and distributes your legacy to the heirs you have identified.