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What critical items must be included in a Florida will?

Death is a subject that no Florida resident likes to talk about. Whether referring to themselves or friends and family members, the topic of death rarely, if ever, makes it into the day’s conversation. That’s because the topic is unpleasant and it reminds people of their own mortality. However, there is at least one time in everyone’s life that the topic of death must be discussed calmly and at length. That is when people sit down and draw up their will.

Wills are an extremely important and very basic document because they provide family and friends specific instructions about what to do with the deceased person’s real estate, property, bank accounts, heirlooms and any other important possessions. A will that has been properly drawn up will allow the deceased’s estate to quickly distribute the items that are mentioned in it.

But, for a will to withstand scrutiny it needs to comply with certain basic requirements. First, the testator or person who is drawing up the will must understand what is going into the will itself. They must not be suffering from any mental disabilities that would prevent them from knowing what is in the will. Next, the will must be present in written form, preferably in a professional, typed format. The will must also be signed by the deceased indicating that he or she fully understood and agreed with the instructions written in it. The will must also be signed by at least one witness and notarized by a notary. All of these steps must take place while the testator is still living.

Some state laws prohibit a testator from disinheriting a former spouse or children from a former marriage without their express written consent. However, this type of consent can be granted in a prenuptial agreement. And, while the testator may decide to disinherit non-dependent children, instructions of this nature should be clearly stated in the legal document.

Wills can also be used to designate an adult guardian for any of the testator’s dependent children and it can also select a family member or friend to act as the estate’s executor. Wills can also cover many additional topics as well.

Source: Findlaw “Wills: An Overview” Accessed March 16, 2015

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