How to Make a DIY Will in Florida?
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How to Make a DIY Will in Florida?

How to create a Will in Florida? What do I need to know before making a Will in Florida? In this article, we'll guide you through the steps and information necessary to create your DIY Will in Florida! Keep reading to learn more!

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Ah, the Sunshine State. Home of Florida Man, Florida Woman, and even Florida Dog. Florida has inspired some of the greatest entertainers the world has ever known, like Walt Disney, while writers like Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassan have made us laugh by explaining all the very Florida ways to die. Speaking of dying (see what I did there), did you know that Florida is home to the largest number of retirees? Almost 80% of Florida residents who are over age 72 have Wills because they know that this is one of the best gifts they can give their loved ones. But what about the other Florida residents who need to write a DIY Will? Not nearly as many of them have written their Wills. Now is a great time to make an online Will in Florida. In this comprehensive guide, FastWill will explain how you can make a Will in the beautiful state of Florida. 

Why Do You Need a Florida Will?

A Will is a legal document that allows you to state how you want your assets distributed to your beneficiaries when you pass away. Here are a few key reasons why making a Will in Florida is vital:

  • To Honor Your Wishes for Asset Distribution: A Will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your desires. Without a Will, Florida's intestate laws will determine how your assets are divided. There’s no guarantee that the state’s mandatory distribution plan will line up with what you want.

  • To Appoint a Legal Guardian for Minor Children: If you have children under 18, a Will enables you to designate a guardian for their care. This ensures that your children are placed under the care of someone you trust.

  • To Minimize Family Disputes: A well-drafted Will can help prevent family disputes by clearly outlining your wishes and intentions, reducing the chances of conflicts among your loved ones.

What to Include in a Florida Will  

When creating a will in Florida, there are certain things you should include to ensure that it’s effective. Here are the essential components to include in your Will:

Identification: Begin your Will by clearly identifying yourself with your full legal name, address, and any relevant identifying information.

Appointment of an Executor: An executor is responsible for carrying out the instructions specified in your Will. Choose a trustworthy person who will handle your estate administration efficiently. This can be a family member or friend, or a professional whom you trust, like a CPA or lawyer.

Name the Beneficiaries: Specify the people or organizations who will inherit your assets. Include their full names, relationship to you, and their respective shares. In addition to individuals, you can make a corporation or a charity one of your beneficiaries. 

Asset Distribution: Outline how you want your assets to be distributed among your beneficiaries. Be clear and specific to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.

Guardianship: If you have minor children, designate a guardian in your Will who will be responsible for their care and well-being.

Digital Assets: In the digital age, it's essential to address digital assets such as online accounts, social media profiles, and cryptocurrencies. Clearly state how you want these assets to be managed or transferred.

Signatures and Witness Requirements for Florida Wills

Florida’s law says that the Will must be signed by the person writing the Will, who is known as the testator, plus two witnesses. The witnesses can either watch the testator sign the Will, or affirm that the testator told them that he or she has signed the Will document. The witnesses must sign in the presence of each other. The witnesses have to sign the Will while in the presence of the testator. You can find Florida’s rules on signatures and witnesses in Florida Statute 732.502.

Florida does not require you to notarize your Will. However, notarizing the Will can be helpful because the probate court will admit it as a “self-proving” Will. This simply means that the witnesses won’t have to come to court to confirm that they witnessed the testator signing the Will. Florida’s rules about self-proving Wills are located in Florida Statute 732.503.

Florida Property Exempt from Creditors

Not all creditors' claims on your estate must be paid. In Florida, some property is actually exempt from creditors, which means that assets like a house and cars can’t be sold to pay off creditors. Florida Statute section 732.402(2) states:

Exempt property shall consist of:

(a) Household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $20,000 as of the date of death.

(b) Two motor vehicles as defined in s. 316.003, which do not, individually as to either such motor vehicle, have a gross vehicle weight in excess of 15,000 pounds, held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles.

(c) All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, including, but not limited to, the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund advance payment contracts under s. 1009.98 and the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund participation agreements under s. 1009.981.

(d) All benefits paid pursuant to s. 112.1915

Florida Homestead Property Exempt from Probate

The other type of exempt property is your homestead, which will pass directly to your beneficiaries, such as your spouse or children. In Florida, a homestead property refers to a primary residence that is eligible for legal and financial protections under the state's homestead exemption laws. The Florida Constitution provides various benefits to individuals who establish and maintain a homestead property. 

Here are some key aspects of a homestead property in Florida:

Primary Residence: A homestead property must be the owner's primary residence or the primary residence of their dependent.

Property Tax Exemption: One of the significant advantages of a homestead property is the homestead exemption, which reduces the property's assessed value for the purpose of calculating property taxes. This exemption can result in substantial tax savings for homeowners.

Size Limitations: Homestead properties in urban areas typically have a maximum lot size of half an acre, while properties in rural areas may qualify for larger exemptions.

Residency Requirement: To claim the homestead exemption, the homeowner must be a permanent Florida resident. Establishing Florida residency involves meeting specific criteria, such as living in the state for at least six months each calendar year.

Homestead Exemption and Your Will 

Florida's homestead laws offer protection against creditors. In certain situations, the homestead property is shielded from forced sale to satisfy most types of debts, such as judgments or claims resulting from bankruptcy or other financial obligations. If you leave your homestead to your descendants, the home will be protected. When passing on a homestead property through a Will, you must be aware that Florida requires you to leave the property to your spouse or minor children, if applicable. This means you can’t disinherit your children or spouse from inheriting the family home.

Conclusion:  Florida Offers Unique Benefits to Those Who Make a Will

Making a Will in Florida is a crucial step to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and to protect your loved ones. By understanding the benefits of Florida’s homestead protection and familiarizing yourself with the key elements to include in a Will, you can have an estate plan that protects your heirs for years to come. Don't delay—you can start writing your online Florida Will with FastWill right away.

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