Estate Planning (Wills and Trusts)

Creating a last will and testament is an important step to make sure your assets, or estate—the real estate, cash, and personal property that you own—are properly distributed after your death. After any major life change, like a new addition to your family or the end of a marriage, it is imperative to review your estate plan.

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Creating a last will and testament is an important step to make sure your assets, or estate—the real estate, cash, and personal property that you own—are properly distributed after your death. After any major life change, like a new addition to your family or the end of a marriage, it is imperative to review your estate plan.

Florida wills give the testator (the person writing the will) the opportunity to make sure their spouse, children, other loved ones, and pets are taken care of. You may also choose to leave property or make gifts to charitable organizations through your Florida will and testamentary trust (i.e., trusts created through a last will and testament) that provide a benefit for people, pets or charitable organizations).

In contrast to a last will and testament, a living will provides instructions about your health care should you become incapacitated and incapable of making decisions. A living will, called an “advance directive” under Florida law, would take effect during a person’s life, if necessary, while a last will and testament does not take effect until the person passes away.

It is important to note that before the terms of a Florida last will and testament can be considered, the will must be proved in probate court. Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing the estate of a deceased person. If a Florida will is self-proving and valid, as described below, it can be immediately admitted to probate. In order for a Florida will to be self-proving, the testator and witnesses must sign an affidavit, which must also be notarized, proving each participant’s identity and attesting to the fact that each knew they were signing a will.