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A will is a document that states how you want your possessions, money, property and other assets divided after your death. The distribution of your assets is up to your discretion, but the type of will you make can affect whether the courts abide by your wishes. Other important actions can be directed in a will, such as choosing your personal representative who will be charged with overseeing the probate process as well as several other legal duties upon your death. At Shigo Law Firm, P.A., we recommend that all Florida residents create a will before it's too late.
Estate Planning Attorneys in Gainesville & Ocala
It can be difficult to think about death and how our assets should be divided when we leave this world. Many people are unaware of the types of things that qualify as assets, like property, money and material possessions, and if bank accounts, businesses and real estate are in more than one person's name, the process of succession can be confusing. Our estate planning attorneys are experienced in creating and updating wills for clients of all walks of life. It's never too early to begin planning for the future of your friends and family, and Shigo Law Firm can assist in your preparations.
Why Should I Make a Will?
The main reason most people create a will is so that they can control where their assets go after they die. While some people may wish to distribute their assets evenly throughout their family, others may want their wealth to be donated to specific charities. Further still, some people want to ensure that certain family members are not included in the succession of assets and properties — for any number of reasons — and a will is the best way to ensure these wishes are granted.
It is not uncommon for a person to pass away without a will in place. In those instances, the distribution of assets still occurs, but the State of Florida intervenes and distributes assets based on several regulations and guidelines. The State of Florida dictates the distribution instead of a personal representative or a survivor such as a spouse or child.
If you want to provide for friends and family members, or dictate the succession of property or business assets, a will is the best way to do so. Estate planning should not be done lightly or on a whim, and our attorneys are ready to help you during this process.
Types of Wills
A will can vary in length, format and complexity based on the needs of the client. But the length or format of the will is less important than the whether the will is written with a clarity to best convey the wishes of the person making the will, also known as the Testator.
There are many types of wills, but in the State of Florida, there are stipulations which govern which types of wills are considered legal. In Florida, a will must be made by a person who is at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and witnessed by 2 other parties.
Types of wills that are considered illegal in Florida include:
- Deathbed wills which are drafted when a person's death is imminent.
- Oral wills that are spoken but unwritten because the testator is unable to draft a will.
- Templated wills, often found online with fill-in-the-blank sections, are often rendered illegal due to the testator not understanding specific will making laws in Florida. These types of wills can be upheld, but are often found to be unenforceable.
If you are considering making a will to plan for the future, contact a professional estate planning attorney. We can ensure that your will is legal and that your wishes are clearly outlined.
Contesting a Will
There are many reasons why a benefactor or other individual may contest a will in Florida. Perhaps a person felt they should have received a portion of the estate, or they might feel that another person should not have been included in the will at all. Further still, the testator's state of mind can come into question, which may invalidate a will.
In Florida, the testator must be in a state of sound mind in order for a will to be enforceable. If you suspect that the testator was under duress, incapable of making sound decisions, or otherwise coerced into creating or signing a will, contact our law office immediately. We can help investigate these claims and file the necessary paperwork to pursue court action. A person's final wishes should be upheld, and if you think an outside party has compromised the testator's will or final wishes, we will fight to resolve the issue in the best way possible.
It is not always necessary to involve the courts when contesting a will. If the situation can be handled through mediation or settlement, our will litigation attorneys can take the steps needed to resolve the matter quickly and quietly.
Contact an Estate Planning and Litigation Attorney Today
It's never too early to plan for the future, so if you are interested in taking the first step of creating a will, contact our attorneys at the Shigo Law Firm, P.A. in Gainesville or Ocala for a consultation. We can help you determine what assets you have and create a law abiding will to ensure your benefactors receive the assets you dictate.
If you are worried that a will was creating when the testator was in a state of duress or not of a sound mind, don't wait to act. We take these matters very seriously and will fight for the integrity of your friend or family member who can no longer fight for themselves. Contact our litigation attorneys to resolve the matter in the most respectful way.