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Three things to consider before drafting a will

When people think about estate planning, they typically think of a last will and testament. Although estate plans can include several other important documents, a will is often a good document to start with. However, there are three things you may want to consider before you begin drafting your will.

Who gets what?

One major function of a will is to detail who will inherit your possessions. These people are called your the beneficiaries of your will. It is important to be specific about your beneficiaries and the items they will receive. This will help prevent confusion and potential squabbles among them. It is also important to be realistic and recognize that your items may not be able to be distributed equally.

A good approach to get started may be to talk with your future beneficiaries and see if there are any items that they are especially interested in inheriting. Sentimental items may be more meaningful than financial items to some of your loved ones. Also, by talking with your beneficiaries, they will have an opportunity to voice any concerns before you add the information to your will.

Who will manage your final affairs?

Another purpose of your will is to name someone to be personal representative of your estate. Some of the duties this person will be responsible for include finding and maintaining your assets after your death, paying any bills or taxes your estate owes, representing your estate in court and distributing your assets the way you describe in your will. If this person mismanages your estate, he or she may be personally liable.

Because of the many responsibilities associated with this role, it is a good idea to ask permission before naming someone the personal representative. Many people choose a spouse, adult child or sibling for this role, but you can also choose a bank or trust company. Whoever you choose should be honest, organized and located near many of your assets. It may also be prudent to name an alternate personal representative, in case your first choice in unable to take on the responsibilities at the time of your passing.

What are the legal requirements for making a will in Florida?

Florida has several requirements your will must meet for it to be legally valid. It is important to make sure you understand all the requirements and that you meet each one. The process of proving a will invalid can be costly and time-consuming, and it often causes a rift between family members. Also, if your will is invalid, your property may be distributed based on Florida’s intestate succession laws, which may result in an unintended relative receiving your assets.

Pay special attention to the requirements for witness signatures. You must have two people either witness you signing the will or witness you acknowledge that you already signed the will. The witnesses must then sign the will in your presence and the presence of each other.

Many people think they are familiar with wills. However, these documents can require quite a bit of planning before they are made legally binding. To get started, consider who will receive what, who will manage your final affairs and what the legal requirements are in Florida.

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