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The basics about creating a valid will

If you are ready to create your last will and testament, the first step is knowing how to make sure what you put in the will is carried out after you pass away. You also need to know what can go into your will and what doesn’t.

First, a will is a legal document that you use to declare which individuals (and organizations) will inherit from your estate when you die and what they will get. If you die without a valid will, Florida’s intestacy law will dictate how your assets get distributed. But it may turn out differently than what you wanted, so writing a will is always a good idea. While most people choose their spouse and/or children as their heirs, you can pick whomever you like and specify what you will bequeath them.

Picking the executor of your estate

You can also choose who will serve as the executor of your estate. This person will guide your estate through probate court, make sure your debts are settled and your remaining assets distributed according to the terms of your will. In Florida, almost anyone over 18 can be an executor, but make sure you pick someone you trust to handle this job and who you expect to be available to do it when the time comes. If you don’t name an executor, someone you would not have approved of might end up being assigned the job.

Keep in mind that your life insurance policy and retirement account do not pass through probate. This means your will does not cover them, and you must name your beneficiaries for each.

Make sure your will passes muster

State law sets out the rules for drafting a new will or amending or replacing an existing one. If you make a mistake, the court could reject the will, making the probate process longer and more expensive and going against your final intentions. But by doing the right things, such as having at least two witnesses when you sign your will, you can have the start of a comprehensive estate plan.


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