Answers to Common Questions About Wills and Probate
As estate planning attorneys, we regularly receive questions about wills and the probate process. We would like to take a few moments to answer some of these questions below:
Q: Do I really need a will?
Just about everyone should have a will. Even if you think you are able to distribute your property without a will, it’s better to have one to ensure your wishes are legally binding. A will also enables you to name an executor, who can distribute your estate after your passing, along with guardians for your minor children.
Q: What happens if I die and did not have a will?
Your assets would pass down according to intestate succession laws. If you have a spouse or children, they will have first priority over your assets. After that, assets get divided according to state law. The way the state divides your property will most likely not be fully aligned with your preferences.
Q: What requirements are associated with making a will?
For a will to be legally binding, it must be in writing and made by a person of sound mind and body over the age of 18 in the presence of two witnesses. The creator must also sign the document. It does not necessarily need to be notarized.
Q: Can I do anything I want with my property?
For the most part, yes. If you are married, your spouse will have a right to at least some of your property. Your children will as well, unless you expressly disinherit them in your will. Your estate may have to settle any debts you have at the time of your passing.
Q: Am I allowed to change my will?
Yes. You may change your will any time you want, as long as you have the mental and physical capacity to do so. You should create an entirely new document rather than altering a hard copy of your existing will. This will help avoid confusion in the future.
Q: What does the executor of my estate do?
The executor provides proper notice to the parties mentioned in your will and collects and inventory your property. He or she also receives claims made against the estate, paying off just claims and disputing others (if necessary). Finally, he or she will sell any property and distribute the rest of the estate’s property according to the will.
For further information on wills and probate, consult a knowledgeable Florida estate planning attorney at The Charles Law Offices.