How to Make a Will in Florida?
5 min read

How to Make a Will in Florida?

Why should I create a Will? What are the requirements for a valid Will in Florida? This article discusses to process of writing a Will in Florida and how you can ensure that your documents are valid! Keep reading to learn more!

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Writing a Will is the most important step in ensuring that your assets and wishes are properly managed and distributed after you pass away. If you live in Florida, it's essential to understand the specific requirements and guidelines for creating a valid Will in the state. In this article, we'll walk you through the process of writing a Will in Florida. If you're ready to get started now, click on the Florida link here, and you'll be on your way!

Why Write a Will?

A Will is a legal document that outlines how your property and assets will be distributed after your death. Without a valid Will, your assets may be distributed according to the state's intestacy laws, which means they will be given to your closest relatives as enumerated under Florida law. Since that might not align with your wishes, it is better to have a Will. 

Writing a Will allows you to do four crucial things:

  • Designate Beneficiaries:  Designating a beneficiary is how you specify who will inherit your property, assets, and possessions. This helps avoid potential disputes among family members.

  • Appoint a Guardian for Minor Children:  If you have children who are minors, a Will allows you to designate a guardian who will take care of them in your absence.

  • Name an Executor: An executor is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will. You can appoint someone you trust to handle the legal and financial aspects of your estate. You can pick anyone who is over the age of 18 as long as they are competent. Many people name their spouse as their executor, but you can also name an attorney or other professional, plus an alternate.

  • Make Special Instructions: A Will also allows you to make special bequeaths or requests. For example, you may want to make charitable donations or leave specific instructions for how you want to be buried or cremated.   

Requirements for a Valid Will in Florida

To ensure that your Will is legally valid in Florida, you must follow the requirements outlined in the state's laws:

In Florida, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind to create a Will. This means you understand the implications of the decisions you made in leaving your property and aren't under the influence of external factors or people. The only exception to the rule is that a person under 18 years old can write a Will if they are legally emancipated. 

A Florida Will must always be in writing, whether it's typed or handwritten. (Oral wills are generally not recognized in Florida.) The Will has to be signed by two witnesses who are present at the same time. Florida does not allow beneficiaries of the Will or their spouses to be witnesses. If someone is inheriting your Will, they generally should not be a witness because the Will could be challenged in court. Keep in mind that even a handwritten Will has to be witnessed. 

The person who creates the Will must sign the will at the end of the document. If you're unable to sign, someone else can do so in your presence and under your direction.

You don't have to notarize your Will in Florida. However, if you want to streamline the probate process even more, then getting your Will notarized will help make your will "self-proving." If two witnesses sign in your presence and you then notarize the Will, then the witnesses won't have to go to court to testify that they really did witness your Will. Instead, your executor can move forward with the process quickly. 

Steps for Writing Your Own Will in Florida

It's easy to make your own Will in Florida without the involvement of a lawyer. To get started, you have to gather information about your assets, liabilities, and beneficiaries. 

Step 1:  Gather Information: Make a list of your bank accounts, real estate, personal property, investments, and any debts you owe.

Step 2:  Name an Executor: Consider who you trust to handle your affairs after your death. Pick someone you know is reliable and trustworthy. The executor's job is to pay your debts and distribute assets according to your wishes.

Step 3: Make Beneficiary Designations: This is the step that people associate most closely with "writing a will." This is where you decide who will inherit your assets. Specify the beneficiaries' full names and their relationship to you.

Step 4: Name Guardians for Minors: If you have minor children, designate a guardian who will take care of them. Make sure to discuss this responsibility with the chosen guardian beforehand. Since there's no guarantee that your guardian will outlive you or be able to serve, make sure you also name an alternate or even two.

Step 5: Disposition of Assets: Outline how your assets should be distributed. You can be as specific as you'd like, whether it's a particular piece of jewelry, a car, a sum of money, or a percentage of your estate.

Step 6: Include a Residuary Clause: You won't name a beneficiary for every single thing you own, so you should include a residuary clause that disposes of assets that aren't mentioned elsewhere in your Will or Trust. This ensures that any overlooked assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Step 7. Name Alternative Beneficiaries: In case a beneficiary predeceases you, designate alternative beneficiaries.

Step 8:  Witnesses: When you're ready to sign your Will, gather two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. Sign the Will in their presence and have them sign as witnesses. As noted above, if you want to make your will self-proving, get the Will notarized. 

Step 9:  Make Copies and Store the Will: Always make copies of the Will and safeguard them along with the original. Be sure to store your Will in a safe and accessible place and inform your executor of its location. Don't put it in a bank safe deposit box because it could take extra time before the bank allows someone to access it. Inform at least one other person of where they can find your Will.

Step 10:  Periodically Review the Will: Life circumstances change, so it's a good idea to review and update your will periodically, especially after major life events like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption, a move, or significant asset acquisitions. FastWill makes this process easy. You can update or write a new Will at any time.

Write a Valid Florida Will Now

If you live in Florida, be sure that you understand the law and follow the instructions to ensure your will is legally binding. FastWill can help you make a Will that is informed by AI but backed by real lawyers, so you never have to worry about researching the law yourself. At FastWill, we know that each person's situation is unique, so we give you plenty of options that fit your specific needs and circumstances.

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