What is a Florida Will and what can will do in Florida?

August 20, 2012

Thumbnail image for will and testament.bmpIn Florida a Will does more than you may at first realize. Florida Wills are not just for leaving specific items to specific people. The main function of a Florida will is to provide for the distribution of property owned by you at the time of your death in whatever manner you choose.

Wills take on various degrees of complexity and can be used to achieve a wide range of financial and family objectives. If a will provides for the outright distribution of assets, it is sometimes characterized as a simple will. Wills can also establish one or more trusts to help manage the assets after you are gone. A will in Florida may also leave assets to a trust that was created while you were alive (known as an inter vivos trust), in which case it is called a Florida pour over will. In either case, the purpose of the trust arrangement is often to ensure continued property management and creditor protection for the surviving family members, to provide for charities, and to minimize taxes.

Aside from providing for the intended disposition of your property., there are a number of other important objectives that may be accomplished in a Florida will.

• A will allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children if you survive the other parent so that the state does not decide who will raise the child. • A will lets you designate who will inherit which of your assets. • A will lets you specify when your children will receive what and under what conditions. Otherwise, a teenager could end up receiving his entire inheritance before he's mature enough to handle the responsibility. • It lets you name a Personal Representative of your estate and can allow you to save money by waiving the probate bond or PR fees, which will otherwise be required. • It can permit a business to continue operating. • It can save you some money in taxes.

While a will in Florida can help with many things, it does not do everything. For instance, a will does not govern the transfer of certain types of assets, called non-probate property, which will automatically pass to someone else upon your death. For example, real estate and other assets owned with rights of survivorship or with enhanced life estate deeds pass automatically to the surviving owner(s) or named beneficiary. Likewise, an IRA or insurance policy payable to a named beneficiary passes outside the will. While a Florida homestead also passes outside a will, often a probate is necessary to clear the title.

A trust can do almost everything a will can but has additional flexibility and can help in the case you become incapacitate. A Will in Florida will have no effect on assets if you become incapacitated.

If you have other questions about wills or trusts in Florida contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer at the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today at (904) 685-1200.