LegalJourney Blog

Friday, August 5, 2016

State Requirements For Executing Your Will

Each state has its own particular requirements for the creation of a valid will.  Generally, the person executing the will, or the testator, must be eighteen, and of “sound mind” at the moment he or she signs the document.  The will must be in writing and witnessed as well, in addition to other requirements that are mandated by your state.  A will can be declared void unless it abides by the stringent requirements of your state.  Your attorney can also educate you on the tax implications relating to the dissemination of your property. 

A will is revocable up until the death of the testator.  If the testator would like to amend a will, a codicil is usually advised.  If you already have had a will or codicil drafted by an attorney, you cannot simply cross out a bequest to effectively and legally change a provision.  Consult a licensed estate attorney to draft a codicil or an entirely new will.  This will help guarantee that your assets will be distributed according to your intentions. 

Furthermore, the person you designate to manage your estate after death, the executor, must be permitted to serve under applicable law.  You may be permitted to designate an entity, such as a trust or bank company, to carry out your will and take care of your property.  An attorney can also help you create a trust in your will.  However, all of your property may not be eligible for distribution by the same document.  For example, if you hold a life estate in a piece of property, your interest expires upon your death and would not pass to the individual named in your will.  Likewise, if you hold property with another individual as “tenants by the entirety,” the property would pass to your spouse on the date of your death due to the “right of survivorship.”

Aside from property designations, you should also inquire about designating certain power to others to make medical decisions on your behalf in the case that you become incapable of doing so.  These documents may include living wills, powers of attorney, and health care surrogates.  There are also particular requirements in order to designate a guardian for your child or children.  Consult your attorney to make certain that your wishes are carried out pursuant to state law.


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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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