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Legally Speaking: Wills
Legally Speaking: Wills
From the Florida Bar Pamphlet: Do You Have a Will?

A will is a written direction controlling the disposition of property at death. The laws of each state set the formal requirements for a legal will. In Florida, the maker of the will (testator) must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind and the will must be written. Your will must be witnessed and notarized in the special manner provided by law for wills. It is necessary to follow exactly the formalities required by Florida law for the execution of a will.

To be effective, your will must be proved valid in and allowed by the probate court. No will becomes final until the death of the testator, and it may be changed or added to by the testator by drawing a new will or by a “codicil,” which is simply a separately written addition or amendment executed with the same formalities as a will. A will’s terms cannot be changed by writing something in or crossing something out after the will is executed.

Through a will, you decide who gets your property instead of the law making the choice for you.

A trust may be created in your will whereby the estate or a portion of the estate will be kept intact with income distributed to or accumulated for the benefit of members of the family or others. Minors can be cared for without the expense of proceedings for guardianship of property.

Real estate and other assets may be sold without court proceedings, if your will adequately authorizes it. You may make gifts, effective at or after your death, to charity. You decide who bears any tax burden, rather than the law making that decision.

A guardian may be named for minor children.

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January 2020