What Must Be Included in a Last Will and Testament?
Attorney L. Reed Bloodworth, managing partner of Orlando, Florida law firm Bloodworth Law, discusses what must be included in a last will and testament.
- A residuary clause
- A personal representative
- A guardianship
- A living will
There should always be a residuary clause stating where your assets will go. You can name specifics, or you can provide a residuary clause which is the catchall.
An example of a residuary clause is: “I leave the remainder of my estate to Bob, OR, to Karen and Steve,” because you can name multiple people.
Without a residuary clause, the state’s intestate statute may apply.
Personal Representative Named
A will should always name a personal representative. A personal representative acts as a fiduciary and is the executor of an estate of a decedent.
If you don’t name a personal representative, the court will have to select one, and that could be anyone who applies. There are established rules for the personal representative because they have to qualify.
A personal representative living within the state of Florida can be anyone who is not a felon, but who is:
- A family member
- A distant relative, or,
- A friend
If a friend or other non-relative is named a personal representative, they must be a Florida resident.
But, out of state relatives may still be named your personal representative.
A will should always have a guardian named if you have minor children.
What is a guardian? A guardian is the person you’re choosing to take care of your children and your children’s property and or assets if something should happen to you, the parent, or both parents.
The court defers to whoever is named, as long as they’re qualified through background checks and guidelines within the statute. If you don’t name a guardian, then someone who is related to you can come in and petition to become a guardian, and it may or may not be someone you wanted.
An additional document you should prepare with your Last Will and Testament is a living will.
A living will controls the medical decisions to be made concerning you. When we create a living will, we have our clients affirmatively put their initials next to those specific life-extending efforts — whatever they may be.
To summarize, the most important parts of a will are the residuary, your personal representative, if you have children, naming the guardian, and a living will.
Signing the Will
Finally, the Will must be signed by you, it must be witnessed by two people, and preferably using a self-proving affidavit where all signatures take place in front of a notary at one time.
Consider a legal consultation with a Florida estate planning attorney to review an estate plan put in place years ago. If your marital status has changed, or you had considerably more, or fewer assets, a review of your estate plan will ensure that your plan is in compliance with Florida law.
At Bloodworth Law, our team handles Estate Planning services for clients across Florida and can work with you remotely, via video conference, or in the office with the appropriate safety measures taken to protect you as we help you with your legal needs.Consider sharing this post