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Sarasota Wills Attorney

Experienced Legal Guidance to Protect Your Wishes

At The Edwards Law Firm, PL we are proud to have served clients in the Sarasota area for over 20 years. We have made it our work to help families find peace of mind in their estate planning, wills, and trusts. We know you have worked diligently to outline plans for your family and heirs and you deserve trusted legal assistance in safeguarding those plans.

Do I Need a Will?

This is a common question that lawyers hear. After all, when a person dies, his surviving family members get his property, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you should have a will.

1. You should have a will if you want to decide who receives your property upon your death.

Without a will, your property is distributed according to the intestacy laws. These are laws that give priority first to a surviving spouse, then to descendants, parents, siblings, and last to other family members. What if you want your siblings to receive your property instead of your adult child? What if you want your cousin to receive a special family heirloom instead of your spouse? Without a will, you have no say in how your property passes.

Furthermore, the intestacy laws make no provision for gifts to charity. What if you would like to make a gift upon your death to an animal welfare group whose cause you believe in? Without a will, you cannot ensure that such a gift will be made.

2. You should have a will to designate who will make important decisions.

When a person dies, someone designated as the personal representative (commonly referred to as the executor) has to administer the estate. Administering the estate means taking inventory of the assets, paying creditors and taxes, and ensuring that the correct people receive what they are entitled to receive. With a will, you designate the personal representative. Without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative. This may or may not be someone you know and trust.

Do you have minor children? If so, who do you want to be their guardian in the event of your death? Without a will, the court will make that decision. Of course, the court will be guided by the best interests of the children in doing so, but you may have preferred someone different.

3. Having a will can actually end up saving money.

By having a will, you can save money in several ways, including: taking advantage of the estate tax laws, reducing or eliminating compensation paid to a personal representative, eliminating court costs associated with determining heirs, eliminating the cost of guardianship proceedings, and eliminating the cost of the court auctioning real estate or other assets.

In sum, if you want more control over what happens to your property after you die, and you want to reduce the costs of administering your estate for your loved ones, then, yes, you need a will. Give The Edwards Law Firm a call today to protect your family and your property.

Moving to Florida: Do I Need a New Will?

There are several reasons why you should have a new will drafted when you establish residency in Florida. The most important reason is that, in order to be valid in Florida, your will must have been executed in strict compliance with Florida’s requirements for the execution of a will. There are only two methods by which a will is considered validly executed in Florida. One method is that the will has a self-proving affidavit. A self-proved will may be admitted to probate without further proof of its execution. The other method is that the will must have been signed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary, all of whom must sign the will in the presence of one another.

If your out of state will do not have a self-proving affidavit, at least one of the witnesses will have to be found to attest to the fact that they witnessed you signing your will. Trying to track down a witness causes delay and expense in the probate process. Without a witness or a self-proving affidavit, the will is invalid and your property will pass according to Florida’s intestate succession laws without regard to your wishes.

Another important reason for drafting a new will upon relocating to Florida is Florida’s homestead laws. Florida’s homestead laws restrict a homeowner’s ability to designate who will receive his homestead (generally speaking, his full-time residence and any adjoining land) upon his death. If the homeowner is married or has a minor child, the homestead can pass only to the surviving spouse unless the spouse has waived her homestead rights in the property. If there are no minor children or a surviving spouse, then the homeowner may designate anyone of his choice to receive the property upon his death. Whatever the case, a will drafted in another state likely did not take Florida’s homestead protections into account and could result in a different distribution of your property than you had planned.

Another reason to draft a new will upon moving to Florida is Florida’s laws designating who can serve as the personal representative of an estate. The personal representative (often referred to as the executor) of an estate in Florida must be either a relative or a Florida resident. If the personal representative designated in your current will does not meet Florida’s qualifications, the court will appoint a personal representative. This may or may not be someone you know. Having a personal representative you know better assures that your property will be distributed according to your wishes.

In sum, there are many important reasons to have a new will drafted when you move to Florida. You want your property to pass according to your wishes with as little expense to your estate as possible. Call The Edwards Law Firm today to obtain a new will that complies with the requirements of Florida law.

Contact a Sarasota Wills Lawyer at The Edwards Law Firm, PL to Schedule Your Consultation Today, (800) 896-3619.

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  1. Sheryl A. Edwards is a Board Certified Specialist in Real Estate Law
  2. Over 23 Years of Experience
  3. Selected for Super Lawyers 6 Times
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