Important Clauses to include in a will or revocable trust

Here at the Law Office of David Goldman, we wanted to list some of the more important clauses that might be used in a Florida will or Florida Living Trust. Every person who makes a will or trust has different circumstances and therefore every will or trust is designed with that person’s specific needs in mind. Many of these clauses might not be needed in your will or trust, but we like to include them anyway in case the unexpected happens to you or your family. We urge our clients to learn about these clauses, so they can decide if these clauses might help to meet their estate-planning needs or how they may want to make changes to deal with their specific family circumstances.

Disaster Clause

This clause deals with what happens if both spouses or a beneficiary die at the same time. This will or trust usually states that a spouse’s assets will only be transferred to the second spouse or beneficiary if the second spouse survives the first spouse by a certain time period. This period is usually 30 days. This clause can help to prevent the confusion of where assets should go based upon who died first.  The time limit can be increased to add additional protection, but this can delay distributions also.


This clause is great for if a testator already has previous wills or codicils. A revocation clause will revoke the older wills and trusts and let a court know this document is now the controlling force on the testator’s estate. Without this clause, a court would be forced to determine which portions of each will applies. This clause can save the estate from a very expensive probate process or unnecessary court intervention.

Appointment of executor or personal representative

One of the most important parts of creating a will is naming someone to serve as the will’s executor or as we call them in Florida the Personal Representative (PR). The PR is the person in charge of gathering the estate’s assets and distributing them to the beneficiaries. If an executor is not appointed, the state will then be forced to appoint an executor, and the court will usually chooses someone from the immediate family such as the spouse, child, or close relative. A PR has many duties, such as protecting the assets, and the paying debts and taxes of the estate. This means that a PR should be chosen carefully.

Spendthrift Provisions.

Earlier this week we covered the benefits of a spendthrift provision in your will or trust documents.

Guardianship of children

In Florida, a will allow a testator to name a guardian for his or her minor children in the event of the testator’s death. This clause usually takes effect if the other spouse is deceased or incapacitated. Naming a guardian is a good idea to prevent other family members from later fighting over custody of the children. To qualify as a guardian in Florida, the person named must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old. In addition, they must either be a resident of Florida or be a close family member or spouse of a close family.  You can also choose different people to be the guardian of the person and the property.

Total failure clause

If all the named beneficiaries and eligible heirs die before a testator dies, their estate is given to the government. This very rarely happens, but many testators find they would rather see the money go to a good someone else or a charity. Therefore a total failure clause will allow a testator to name a charity as the beneficiary if no eligible heirs are alive at the time of the testator’s death. Many people choose to have their closes family relative as a default.

For information on how a will can be drafted to meet your individual estate-planning needs, contact the Law Office Of David Goldman today.

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