For generations, the most popular way to transfer property to one’s heirs after death was to create a will. While other options now exist that allow for greater flexibility as a part of a larger estate plan, wills remain a vital part of ensuring that your friends and loved ones receive your property and assets after your death.
Our knowledgeable estate planning attorney, Marc Brown, P.A., can explain the legal requirements of a valid will. Our Fort Lauderdale wills lawyer can take the lead in evaluating your current estate plan, identify where changes may be necessary, and work to ensure that your wishes become a reality after you pass away.
Legal Impact of a Valid Will in Fort Lauderdale
In the general sense, a will exists to allow an author to dictate what happens to their property after their death. However, the proper legal concept of a will is far more nuanced. A will serves to retain control over the probate process. Probate is the sole means for a court to determine the property rights of heirs after a person’s death. A will informs the court what the author wants to happen to that property.
One of the main benefits of having a valid will is avoiding the state’s intestacy laws, which distribute a decedent’s property to their surviving family members with no consideration for the decedent’s or heirs’ wishes. This could result in conflict within a family or the unwanted splitting of physical assets. Having a valid will in place overrides the state’s intestacy laws. Our dedicated attorney can provide more information about the legal impact a will has on the probate process.
What Happens If You Pass Away Without a Will in Fort Lauderdale?
Simply put, passing away without a will means anything can happen to your hard-earned assets. The only way to ensure they are distributed how you want them to be is by consulting with an attorney and proactively establishing your will.
As previously mentioned, those without a will could suffer an extensive court probate process in which the state court will examine the sum of your assets and distribute them how they see fit, which means certain family members or relatives may receive your money even if you did not want them to. It can take several months or even years for the court probate process to be over, which means your loved ones may not have access to your assets for quite some time after you’ve passed.
Additionally, any children or dependents of yours will become the responsibility of their other parent or a different relative, which may be different than your original wishes for them. By appointing a trusted executor of your will early on, you can ensure that your wishes are well-represented and that this important responsibility doesn’t become just anyone’s.
Drafting Comprehensive and Legally Valid Wills
As legal documents that are part of an estate plan, wills must conform to all relevant rules concerning their formation. The most important is the law concerning the proper signing of the document. Florida Statute § 732.502 outlines the requirements for a will to be presumed valid. Under the statute, the testator must personally sign the document or instruct another to sign on their behalf while two witnesses observe, then endorse the document. A well-versed lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can ensure your will complies with all relevant laws.
Another key aspect to creating a will involves properly identifying property and heirs. Always be sure to identify assets with as much specificity as possible and to name heirs with the same level of certainty. Hiring our trustworthy attorney to oversee the will drafting process will aid in creating documents that utilize the right amount of specificity.
Let a Fort Lauderdale Wills Attorney Help to Protect Your Property and Heirs
A will forms the cornerstone of any comprehensive estate plan. These documents inform the probate court about what you want to happen to your assets after your death. They also override the state’s intestacy law.
To have the intended effect, wills must meet the state’s rules concerning formation and authentication. They should also be as specific as possible when naming assets and heirs. Contact Marc Brown, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale wills lawyer, today to learn how we help you obtain peace of mind for the future.