Orlando Will Attorney

With years of experience, resources, and unparalleled expertise, our estate planning law firm offers everything you need to create a top-tier, comprehensive legacy plan. Ready to secure your financial future? Schedule a free initial consultation with our law office today. 

Do you know what will happen to your estate after you die? Will your loved ones and family members be provided for? Will all your hard work ultimately contribute to a lasting legacy?

These may seem like questions without answers, but the reality is that there’s an easy way to make sure your wishes are carried out: Write them in your will. After you’ve passed away, your will can serve as your mouthpiece, communicating how you’d like your estate to be managed, divided, and distributed — but only if it’s properly drafted and executed, preferably as part of a larger estate plan.

If you are unsure about how to move forward with creating your will, don’t worry — William C. Roof Law Group is here to help. This article will explain everything you need to know about will creation in Orlando, including how wills work, types of wills in Florida, the steps to establishing your will, and how our legal services can help.

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Understanding Wills

A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s estate should be distributed upon their death. The will’s creator (the testator) also uses their will to specify beneficiaries and official appointments, including a personal representative (executor) and guardians for minor children, if necessary.

 

In the State of Florida, wills must meet specific requirements to be considered valid. These criteria include the following:

  • The will must be in writing.
  • The testator must sign the will.
  • The will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses who must also sign the document.
  • The testator must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the will and its implications for their assets.

A will, also called a last will and testament, plays a critical role in ensuring that the testator’s wishes are honored after their death, providing clarity to the probate process. Rather than set in stone, a will can be amended through codicils, or revoked and replaced with a new will. If you have questions about this process, consult an experienced probate attorney for legal advice.

How Does a Will Work?

When you’re ready to create a will, you will work with an experienced Orlando estate planning attorney to draft it and ensure it meets legal requirements outlined by Florida law. Your will should specify a number of things, including how assets should be distributed to beneficiaries, the personal representative, guardianship appointments (if applicable), and any other special needs and instructions.

However, the mere presence of your will does not complete the process. After you pass, your will goes through several key steps in the probate process before assets can be distributed, which is why it is helpful to work closely with a probate lawyer. Here’s how it works:

 

  • Filing the will. After the testator’s death, the decedent’s (deceased person’s) will is filed with their county’s probate court.
  • Validating the will. The court validates the will to make sure it meets legal requirements.
  • Appointing the personal representative. The court appoints the named personal representative to administer the estate.
  • Notifying creditors and beneficiaries. The personal representative notifies creditors and beneficiaries of the probate proceedings.
  • Compiling an asset inventory. The personal representative conducts a comprehensive inventory of the estate’s assets and files it with the probate court.
  • Paying debts and taxes. The personal representative pays outstanding debts, taxes, and expenses from the estate.
  • Distributing assets. After the estate’s debts and taxes are settled, the personal representative distributes the remaining assets to named beneficiaries according to the will’s instructions.
  • Final accounting. The personal representative submits a final accounting of the estate’s administration to submit to the court.
  • Court approval. After the court reviews the final accounting and determines everything is in order, it approves the distribution of remaining assets.
  • Closing the estate. Lastly, the court issues an order closing the estate, which concludes the personal representative’s duties.

Ultimately, the testator’s will provides a roadmap for how assets should be distributed, but the actual distribution of assets occurs at the end of the probate process. The best way to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible is by working with an experienced wills lawyer in Orlando to draft the legal document.

The Different Types of Wills for Florida Estate Planning

The State of Florida recognizes more than one type of will. In fact, there are several types of wills, each of which serves its own purpose and has its own set of legal requirements. Here are a few of the most common types of wills used in Central Florida estate planning:

 

  • Simple will. This is the most basic form of a will, serving two basic functions: outlining how assets should be distributed and naming a personal representative to administer the estate. It is ideal for individuals with relatively straightforward estates.
  • Pour-over will. A pour-over will is designed to work alongside a trust. Essentially, it specifies that any assets not included in the trust at the time of the testator’s death should be transferred into the trust.
  • Living will. Also known as an advance directive, a living will communicates an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatments and end-of-life health care, in the event they become incapacitated.

 

  • Testamentary trust will. This type of will is used to establish a trust upon the testator’s death, including provisions for creating the trust and how the trustee should manage and distribute its assets.
  • Joint will. This legal document is executed by two individuals, typically spouses, to outline the distribution of their combined assets after one or both members dies. Although useful for creating a unified estate plan, a joint will is relatively inflexible.
  • Mutual will. Similarly, a mutual will is executed by two individuals, typically spouses, with identical or complementary terms, as well as with the understanding that neither party will change their will without the consent of the other.

It’s important to note that there are also several types of wills that Florida law does not recognize. These include holographic wills (which are handwritten and unwitnessed), and oral wills (which are spoken rather than written).

The Steps to Create a Will in Orlando, Florida

When you are ready to create a top-quality will that is legally compliant and works within the framework of your larger estate plan, an Orlando wills attorney can guide you through the process. Creating a will requires several key steps, including the following:

 

  1. Assessing your estate planning needs, including identifying and listing all of your assets and considering your larger estate planning goals
  1. Choosing an executor, or personal representative, who you can trust to administer your estate according to your wishes
  1. Deciding on beneficiaries, or, in other words, determining the family members, friends, charities, or organizations you want to inherit your assets
  1. Drafting your will, working with your attorney to outline asset distribution, specific bequests, guardianship appointments, designations, and more
  1. Signing the will in the presence of at least two witnesses who will also sign it, ensuring the witnesses are competent adults and present no conflicts of interest
  1. Notarizing the will with a notary public (optional) and including a self-proving affidavit
  1. Storing the will in a safe, secure place and informing your personal representative or trusted friends and family of its location
  1. Reviewing the will periodically to ensure it reflects any important life changes

Remember: Your will isn’t set in stone. In fact, most individuals benefit from reviewing it periodically to assess its relevance. When it’s time to make changes, an attorney from William C. Roof Law Group can help you amend or replace this critical legal document.

 

Orlando Will Attorney FAQs

If you’ve never created a will before, you probably have a lot of questions. The best way to find clarity is by speaking with an experienced Orlando will attorney. In the meantime, check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

 

• Can I change or revoke my Florida will? 

As long as you remain mentally competent, you can change or revoke your will as many times as you’d like. Your attorney can help you draft a codicil (an amendment to a will) or create an entirely new will to replace the outdated version.

 

• Why do I need an Orlando, FL, wills attorney? 

Estate planning documents, including wills, are only valid when they meet the necessary legal requirements. Although you can attempt to create a will without legal assistance, you run the risk of making critical errors that leave it vulnerable to being invalidated or challenged. An Orlando wills attorney can help prevent disputes and challenges by making sure your will is properly drafted and complies with Florida laws.

 

• What if I die without a valid will? 

Dying without a will is also called dying intestate. When this happens, an estate is distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws, which is a complex, time-consuming process that rarely accounts for the intricacies of your situation, wishes, or family dynamics. Having a valid will is essential to avoiding unnecessary disputes among heirs and ensuring your wishes are respected.

William C. Roof Law Group: Top Orlando Will Attorneys

A professionally executed will is an essential component of estate planning — but it may not be enough to guarantee your estate is managed, divided, and distributed according to your wishes. An experienced estate planning lawyer at William C. Roof Law Group can review your situation and help you navigate the best estate planning strategies for your distinct needs and goals. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to get started.

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