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A will is a document which designates who is to receive one’s assets upon death.  Without a will, your property will pass under the intestacy laws.  The intestacy laws are a “one-size fits all” solution:  If you die with a spouse, everything goes to your spouse; if your spouse dies first, everything goes equally to your children; etc…).  However, in life one size does not always fit all.  Sometimes a testator wants to exclude one of his or her relatives from a will.  Maybe the testator is estranged from their family, and they would rather leave their property to charity, or to friends.  LBGT couples must certainly have a will to ensure their estate goes to their partner.  Non-married co-habiting couples also need a will if they wish their assets to pass to their partner when they die.  Anyone who wishes to leave assets to a step child must have a will. In any of these situations, a will is essential because the intestacy statutes only provides for assets to pass to blood relatives.  Everyone should have a will, regardless.

Wills can be as simple or as complex as the testator wishes.  The testator can just say that their entire estate is to be divided between their three children.  Or they can leave very specific bequests to a number of people or organizations. 

A will in Florida must be in writing, and signed in front of two witnesses.  It is also very helpful if the will is “self-proving”, which is an additional portion of the will where the testator and witnesses sign in front of a notary.  If a will is not self proving, the witnesses will need to be tracked down to file an oath in order to open a probate estate.

What is a Living Will?

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