Tampa Wills Attorney
There is no question that everyone should have a will. A Will I’m sure you’ve heard is the most basic of estate planning devices. In your Will you name an “executor”, the person with legal authority to administer the transfer of your property to your beneficiaries. A Will drawn up by an Attorney in Tampa is a formal legal document detailing the disbursement of your assets big or small. It is crucial to the success of any estate plan that your Will be properly drawn up in accordance with whichever state you live in. The laws governing drawing up wills vary considerably so it’s important to keep this in mind.
For example, a handwritten will is considered legal in certain states but illegal in others. Certain states have recognized the average person’s need for simplified universal wills, which are prepared forms written by the legislature that can be used in lieu of a formal Will. However, in larger more complicated estate cases DIY wills on the internet for example fail to be a satisfactory substitute for a formal Will drawn up by a Tampa Attorney.
What if I Die without a Will?
If you die without a Will, you forfeit the right to direct the dealings of your estate. This will likely result in needless legal disputes, damage to personal relationships, and sometimes, financial devastation. A will is an opportunity for you to designate your own executor, guardians for minor children, and other fiduciaries, rather than relying on the probate court to appoint them for you. Trustees for minor children or other beneficiaries of your estate can be designated in a will, and their powers can be tailored to the anticipated needs of those beneficiaries.
Even if you have neither a spouse nor children a will is the best means of fulfilling your wishes as relating to your estate. Courts are unlikely to award portions of an estate to non-relatives or charities when blood relations (no matter how distant) can be found.
If I Have a Trust, Do I Still Need a Will?
Even those who have shifted the majority of their assets into trusts designed to bypass the probate process, or who use joint ownership, should draw up a Will. Most property owners inevitably leave behind an estate simply because the estate planning tools are not designed to shift all assets away from the probate process. Properties and assets will still be held in the sole control of their owner for convenience and management reasons.
Plus, there is no guarantee that the designated heir(s) will survive, so with a Will you can designate secondary beneficiaries. An Estate planning Attorney in Tampa can help you with more than just tax planning. We can help with the planning for the future of your heirs and beneficiaries.
It is important to talk to an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney to determine if a Will is the right estate planning devise for you, as well as what property, if any, you want transferred by your Will, and what property you want transferred by another estate planning device (like a trust) that will avoid probate. However, it is recommended that everyone still have a Will even if they have other estate planning devices. A Will can serve as a ‘back-up’ device, essential to the transfer of any property that somehow wasn’t transferred by another method, such as property you may have overlooked, or acquired after setting up your probate-avoidance devices.
Also, a Will is the best device for naming a personal guardian for your minor children or providing assets to a partner to whom you are not married, to whom you would like to receive part of your estate.
What are the most important tips for completing a Last Will and Testament?
- Destroy all copies of old and prior wills you have previously executed.
- Provide at least nominal gifts to all your children. If you leave nothing for them, a judge could determine at a later date that you forgot to do so, should one of them challenge your Will. Even a gift of $1 to the child you “omit” will suffice.
- Choose appropriate witnesses. All states require two witnesses, with the exception of Vermont. However, it is strongly recommended that you have three witnesses sign your Will in the event a witness dies or moves to another state. Your spouse or children should not serve as witnesses. Your witnesses must be at least 18 years of age and should not be a beneficiary to your Will.
- Choose an appropriate executor and alternate executor. Ideally, these individuals should reside in the same state or you could appoint a qualified attorney.
Contact Suncoast Elder Law for all your Estate and Will planning needs.