Wills Lawyers in Tampa — Helping to Ensure Your Final Wishes Are Respected and Carried Out
While no one enjoys the thought of dying, it’s something that every one of us must prepare for. The most important thing you can do for such preparations is to have a valid last will and testament. This will help you dictate who executes your will, which beneficiaries receive your assets, who gets custody of underage children, and a variety of other important decisions. Of course, some people try to handle all their estate planning needs without a will. How is this possible, and is it the right decision for you? Our team of wills lawyers in Tampa can help answer these and any other questions you may have.
At Decker Legacy Law, LLC, you’ll work directly with an estate planning attorney who’s committed to handling your legal needs. Our experienced team of law professionals deals with large and small estates, and we can help you choose the best estate planning tools and meet all necessary legal requirements. More importantly, we can help keep more of your assets among family members and loved ones rather than seeing them eaten up by estate taxes. Don’t risk leaving behind more questions than answers and letting the courts make decisions on your behalf. Contact our Tampa wills lawyers today for a confidential consultation.
Why Is Having a Will So Important?
You may not realize it, but having a will could be the most important step you ever take to prepare for the future. A person who makes their wishes known in a will — referred to as the testator in the document — is taking control of their life even after they’re gone. Most people go this route because they can specify where their properties go. If you fail to do this, it’s the courts who will decide. In some instances, relatives you’ve had no contact with for years could receive assets that should go to close loved ones. The same could be true for ownership of beloved pets and even custody of your children.
Clearly, this makes creating a will an important part of estate planning even for young adults. And even if you have minimal assets, no children, and are not married — your will can specify your own personal representative to distribute what you do have in an appropriate manner. Perhaps you’ll leave property to a nonprofit organization to benefit future generations, or maybe you have a long-term partner, close friend, or distant relative you’d like to leave assets to. The simple fact is that dying without a will puts everything you’ve worked for at risk and leaves behind serious potential difficulties for your loved ones.
What Are the Requirements of a Valid Will for Florida Residents?
If someone has no legal experience, they may think that simply writing out their wishes on a printed document is enough. After all, your signature on a document should confer that it’s valid, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. After a testator’s death, the courts will first decide whether their will is valid. If not, then everything will have to go through probate court — and the work put into the legal document will have been wasted. While legal prerequisites can vary between states, many of these conditions are fairly consistent. Here are the requirements of a valid will in Florida:
- Will must be written: A will must be documented on paper. This does not mean the document needs to be handwritten. In fact, handwritten wills (i.e., holographic wills) are often invalid in Florida.
- Competency: A person must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old — or an emancipated minor — for their will to be valid.
- Testator signature: The testator of the will must sign. If they’re unable to sign their name, then a letter, symbol, mark, or initials can serve as a signature.
- Witnesses: Two witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator. While beneficiaries listed in the will can sign as witnesses, this could create problems later.
If your will meets each of the preceding requirements, the probate process will be simplified for those you leave behind. You can also create trusts within the document to ensure assets are distributed as you see fit. Wills’ trusts are just as valid as those that go into effect before someone dies, so this is a great way to handle multiple estate planning necessities with a single document. However, all the benefits of having a will disappear if the courts decide that it isn’t valid — or if someone dies before they create one. In these situations, very little nuance exists. Your estate will simply be treated like many other cases in probate.
How Does Probate Court Work Without a Will?
Florida laws dictate what happens to an estate when its owner dies without a will or has an invalid will. Our legal practice has had to help many grieving families with estate administration after their loved ones pass on without a will. This can make probate court particularly difficult — especially if there are disagreements within the family. You can avoid such problems by visiting our wills lawyers in Tampa and paying a flat fee to create this vital legal document. Because if you leave major decisions to the probate court, you may not like how things play out.
That’s because the courts will rely on Florida law to distribute your assets. In cases where someone has a spouse but no close relatives, the spouse will receive everything. This is true even if they’ve been estranged for years and you just haven’t gotten around to signing divorce papers. A spouse can also receive everything even if there are living children between the decedent and surviving spouse. When there are more family members involved — or no surviving relatives at all — things can get far more complex. In fact, there are even instances where the state of Florida could end up with all your money and assets.
This straightforward piece of knowledge is typically enough to show how important wills are. Put simply, you don’t want to die without one. Contact our Tampa wills lawyers today to ensure your estate and wishes are handled appropriately.
Do You Need a Florida Wills Attorney?
Many people think they can avoid probate and save money by handling the estate planning process on their own. This belief has become even more common thanks to the availability of “do-it-yourself” legal websites. Unfortunately, such services are not able to account for your unique circumstances. When you download a boilerplate form online, it’s nothing more than a general document that’s meant to cover general situations. There’s no way it can ensure that your Tampa estate is administered exactly how you want it to be.
Additionally, it’s important to note that simply having a will does not avoid the probate process. This is an inaccurate assumption that’s been spread for years. However, there are certain times when avoiding probate may be possible. This typically occurs in cases involving joint account holders, named beneficiaries on accounts, and when trusts exist. Fortunately, our estate planning lawyers in Tampa can help with these strategies as well. This is why you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with a wills and trusts attorney today. Contact Decker Legacy Law, LLC, to schedule your confidential consultation.
Contact Our Wills Lawyers in Tampa Today
Unfortunately, estate administration can be a complex task — and it becomes even more complicated if you have an abundance of assets or many family members. Luckily, you don’t have to deal with such issues on your own. An experienced attorney can help you create the appropriate legal documents — including a valid will — to ensure your wishes are respected after you’re gone. Whether you just want to simplify probate matters, specify who’s in charge of business transactions, or appoint someone to administer your will according to your wishes, we can help ensure all necessary legal requirements are met.
At Decker Legacy Law, LLC, we know this can be a stressful and tedious process. That’s why our law firm will work one-on-one with you to ensure your estate is properly distributed. In addition to creating wills, we can also help you make important medical decisions through an advance directive, distribute money and properties via trusts, protect your assets with various legal tools, and deal with all your other estate planning needs. Contact us today by calling (813) 437-4465 to schedule your confidential consultation. Our wills lawyers in Tampa are dedicated to getting the job done right so you don’t have to worry.