A Will Provides A Legally Enforceable Way To Make Your Wishes Known
A Will gives directions on how you wish your assets to be distributed through the probate process by your personal representative (executor). Even a simple Will can save much time and trouble for your family. Your Will may also designate your preference of a legal guardian for any minor children who may survive you and create one or more trusts to take effect upon your death.
Delzer, Coulter & Bell, P.A., is ready to help you draft and execute a Will that will express your wishes in a legally enforceable way. Our firm focuses solely on estate planning, probate, trust administration and elder law. Additionally, we are recognized as experts in our respective areas by the Florida Bar. Attorney Wayne R. Coulter is a board certified specialist in Wills, Trusts and estates, and attorney Rebecca C. Bell is a board certified specialist in elder law.
Considerations When Making A Will
When you are ready to make a Will, there are many factors to consider. This is the perfect time to gather all of your financial information so you have a clear picture of your potential estate. You will also need to consider the people in your life whom you may want to include in your Will in some way. We recommend you collect the following information before your first appointment with your attorney:
- Statements from all bank accounts, including investments and retirement accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Any debts you owe, such as a mortgage, car loan or taxes
- If you have minor children, the name and address of the guardian and any alternates
- The name and address of your personal representative and any alternates
- A list of your heirs-at-law (family) and non-family members or organization you wish to support
- Real estate information
- Information regarding any trusts in your name or for which you are a beneficiary
Your estate plan should take any unique factors into account. For example, if you have a disabled loved one on government benefits, a bequest in a Will could jeopardize those benefits. You may wish to establish a Special Needs Trust instead. At Delzer, Coulter & Bell, P.A., we will help you tailor your plan for you and your family.
Coordinate Asset Ownership With Your Will
If you have titled your assets in joint ownership with rights of survivorship or designated all of your assets as payable on death to one or more beneficiaries, your Will should be consistent with your asset ownership. For example, if your Will provides that your assets are to pass to your three children equally, it creates confusion as to your intent if you have provided a payable on death designation to only one of the children. Your Will can only control assets in your sole or individual name (assets without a joint owner or beneficiary designation), or assets payable to your estate.
Choosing Your Personal Representative
Your Personal Representative is the person you name in your Will to administer your estate upon your death. Any permanent resident of Florida over the age of 18 may qualify as the Personal Representative of your estate. A person who is not a permanent resident of Florida cannot qualify as Personal Representative unless he or she is a family member designated as being qualified under Florida law to act as your Personal Representative. If the person that you want to act as your Personal Representative is not a Florida resident or a family member designated as being qualified under Florida law, you may authorize a person to select a Personal Representative for you.
Update Your Will As Circumstances Change
Clients often ask how often they should revise their Wills. There is no definite period after which a person should have a Will revised. Wills should be reviewed anytime there are substantial changes in assets, or if there are deaths, births, divorces or remarriages. Name and address changes do not necessitate a change in your Will. Never make notes or alterations on your original Will.