What is a Will?

A last will and testament is a formal document where you express your wishes and desires concerning the disposition of your property (assets) after death.  With a few limitations, you can give property to whomever you want and for whatever purpose you desire upon your death.

A will is also used to designate the person who will act as your personal representative (executor) after your death. The personal representative is the individual who acts as decedent’s legal representative charged with administering that person’s estate. The personal representative has the right to bring legal claims on behalf of the decedent or defend claims of third parties against the probate estate.

A will is often used to choose the guardian of your minor children in the event you die and there is no other surviving biological or adoptive parent of the child.  The choice of guardian is often the primary motivation of younger couples for making a will.

Your will should be drafted by an experienced attorney to ensure that it is is properly drafted and executed under the provisions of Florida law. Preparation of a will by someone other than a lawyer may be the unauthorized practice of law, and an improperly drafted or executed may increase probate fees and estate costs.

What if you don’t have a Will?

If you die without a will, you are said to have died “intestate.”  In other words, you have left no direction regarding the recipients of your property or the appointment of your legal representative. In Florida, the consequences of dying intestate are determined by Florida Statute Chapter 732, Part I. The statute dictates how a person’s property is divided among the survivors including a decedent’s spouse, children, and other heirs.

Jon Alper

About Jon Alper

Jon is an attorney focusing on bankruptcy and asset protection in Orlando, Florida.