Will Lawyers in Vero Beach
Call Lulich & Attorneys in Vero Beach for a simple will to establish your legacy and distribute your property after you are gone. Our experienced Vero Beach will and estate planning attorneys can draft a will for you and your spouse. We can also draft other related documents according to your needs and desires. These documents include a testamentary trust clause, living wills, and durable powers of attorney.
What Makes a Vero Beach will valid in Florida?
Florida last will and testaments need to meet certain legal requirements to be accepted into probate as valid:
- The testator, or person making the will, must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
- He/she must be “of sound mind.”
- The will must either be signed at the end by the testator personally or by another person in the presence of and in the direction of the testator.
- Two witnesses must also sign the will in the presence of each other and the testator. The witnesses are attesting to the signing of the will by the testator. O they are attesting to the testator’s acknowledgment that the testator either signed the will or had another sign at the testator’s direction.
Oral wills generally are not valid in Florida. Neither are wills that are written entirely in the testator’s handwriting (as opposed to being typed). Oral wills are technically known as nuncupative wills. Handwritten wills are called holographic wills. However, a will that is written entirely in the handwriting of the testator but is also signed and witnessed according to the above requirements is not considered a holographic will and may be accepted as valid under Florida law.
Why You Need a Vero Beach Wills Attorney?
A will is the simplest way to distribute your property and possessions to your heirs after you are gone. Having a valid will is necessary to avoid intestacy (dying without a will). In intestacy, Florida decides who gets your property.
Some of the main reasons seniors, parents, and other people who live or own property in Vero Beach have a will are:
- With a will, you can designate who receives your estate property. Without a will, as mentioned, Florida’s intestate laws decide the manner of distribution of your estate. Generally, people who prepare a will want their estate to go to their spouse and children. Wills can also designate the following beneficiaries:
- Other relatives such as siblings
- Business associates and partners
You should consider the financial needs of each of the person you choose to have some of your assets. While most people want their family to have their assets, some testators may not want a relative to benefit for different reasons – such as if a son or daughter is financially well off – or if a son or daughter is only interested in your money and is not interested in you as a person. Many people want certain nonprofits or charities to receive some of your assets. You can discuss with your Vero Beach wills lawyer how to leave money to a church, to a school such as the University of Florida or Florida State University, or to an organization you work with.
Many people who prepare wills are particular who receives their personal possessions. If you own jewelry or works of art, you may want to make sure the people who will treasure them the most will receive them when the estate settles.
- Wills allow you to decide who your executor will be. The executor is the person you trust to manage your estate including paying creditors, debts, and taxes. The executor also collects and distributes the assets. Without a will, someone who qualifies will have to ask to become the personal representative of your estate.
Most people choose their spouse or an adult child to be the executor of their will. It’s normally not a good idea to choose a parent to be your executor because it’s likely that your mother or father will die before you die. It is a good idea to choose an alternate executor in case the person who is your first choice doesn’t want to be the executor or can’t act as the executor due to a disability or some other reason.
If you don’t have family members who can serve as the executor, you might consider appointing a lawyer or an accountant as the executor – provided they are not a beneficiary of the estate. You could also choose a corporate executor, such as a bank, but corporate executors normally charge a high fee to act as an executor. The more the executor is paid, the less money you have for the beneficiaries you want to have the proceeds of your estate.
- Wills are useful in naming the guardians of your children. Guardians are the people who raise your minor children and handle their finances. Again, without a will, a relative normally will need court approval to act as guardian for your children. You should name alternate guardians since your first choice may not want to act as a guardian or may not be able to act as a guardian.
- Wills enable you to establish a trustee to manage gifts to your minor children or grandchildren through a testamentary trust clause.
Practical considerations to review with your Vero Beach wills attorney
It’s generally a good idea to speak with the people you want to be your executor, to raise your children, or to be a trustee before you prepare your will. Not everyone wants to be responsible for the job you’d like them to do.
When you draft your will, you’ll work with your Vero Beach will lawyer to identify all your assets. Assets can include a home, cars, retirement accounts, bank accounts, business interests, personal possessions, and other items. We’ll also help coordinate your homestead exemption with your will.
It’s generally a good idea to review your will once a year. You should also review your will with your Vero Beach wills lawyer anytime a new member of your family is added such as a grandchild or if you acquire significant assets.
You may want to leave a letter or a personal video to explain your wishes for the people you love after you die. While letters and personal videos generally have no legal benefit, they do have the personal benefit of being one last reminder of how much you want the people in your life to be happy.
You should discuss with your Vero Beach wills attorney where you will keep the original of your will. Many people have their lawyer keep their will with the attorney who prepared the will. Many lawyers have a safe deposit box for the specific purpose of keeping the wills of their clients. If your lawyer keeps your will, there’s a better chance that your executor will be able to find it when you die. If your attorney keeps your will, there’s also a much better chance that nobody can alter or destroy the will.
What is a living will?
A will is also vital to protect your own interests in the event you become either temporarily or permanently incapacitated, either physically or mentally, and are unable to completely take care of yourself or your financial or legal affairs.
Through provisions such as living wills and powers of attorney, you can rest assured that any decisions regarding your health care or personal affairs will be made according to your wishes by people you know and trust. Without these documents in place, the court may have to impose guardianship over you. This means important personal decisions are being made by someone whom you may not even know.
How do will contests work in Vero Beach?
A Vero Beach will attorney helps prepare your will to minimize the possibility of a contest. Some of the grounds for contesting a will include:
- The will did not comply with formalities such as proper witnesses.
- The testator lacked testamentary capacity. Generally, testamentary capacity https://www.lulich.com/what-steps-can-be-taken-to-show-a-decedent-had-testamentary-capacity/means that the testator:
- Knows what property they own and which property will pass through the will. Testators should be able to identify they own a home and what types of bank accounts and retirement accounts they have.
- Know who their dependents are and which people are expecting to inherit through their will.
- Understand the purpose of the will and any other legal documents that are being prepared.
- The executor should be able to show that the testator meets all three criteria. Your Vero Beach may have some practical suggestions for confirming this such as preparing a video where the testator indicates that he/she meets these basic requirements. If an attorney suspects that the testator may have dementia or may not have the testamentary capacity to make the will, the lawyer should have a doctor who specializes in elder care examine the patient before the testator signs the will. The testimony of the examining physician is often persuasive in a testamentary capacity lawsuit.
- Undue influence. This basis applies if someone uses their position of confidence with you to draft or change a will in their favor. The probate judge will normally hear a claim that the will is invalid due to undue influence. The Vero Beach lawyer for the executor and the lawyers for the claimants will normally conduct discovery, consult with expert witnesses, question any witnesses such as caretakers, and take other measures to advocate for their client before any hearing.
Generally, wills are presumed to be valid. This means the burden of proving undue influence is on the person claiming the will is invalid. Your attorney will explain that the claimant must generally prove the following in order to have a valid claim:
- The testator had a weakened intellect when the Will was executed. A weakened intellect is not the same as having a lack of testamentary capacity. It’s harder to prove a testator lacked testamentary capacity.
- The person claiming that the will was executed under the undue influence must show that the person supporting the validity of the will had a confidential relationship with the testator.
- The person claiming that the will is invalid due to undue influence must show that the person supporting the will received a substantial benefit under the will
For example, if a will designates that the decedent’s nurse should receive ½ the estate, the nurse prevented any family members from seeing the decedent for months before the will was executed, and the testator had a weakened intellect due to early signs of dementia - then a judge will likely rule that the will was executed due to the undue influence of the nurse.
Not everyone can file an undue influence complaint. Normally, the person who files the complaint must have been an expected beneficiary of the estate (such as a daughter or son) and the will must have excluded or substantially reduced that person’s expected share. For example, if a testator has two children and the will provides ½ the estate should go the testator’s wife and the other ½ to the son who was in a confidential relationship with the testator – then the other child (the one who gets nothing under the will) can file an undue influence complaint. The mother likely cannot file an undue complaint since she receives a sizable portion of the decedent’s property.
- Fraud. There are different types of fraud that can invalidate a will. One example is where a person pretends to be the testator and forges the testator’s signature. The will should be ruled to be invalid since the testator never executed his/her own will.
- There is a new will or a codicil to the current will. Testators often prepare a codicil to a will or prepare a new will. A codicil is an amendment to the will. It’s generally used for simple changes such as adding an alternate executor. Probate judges often have to decide if the codicil or new will is authentic and valid before they will invalidate a prior will.
Are there different kinds of wills in Vero Beach?
It’s best to have your Vero Beach wills attorney proper your will and arrange for the proper execution of the will. A holographic will (one in your own handwriting) may be valid but is more likely to be challenged than standard wills.
A pour-over will is often used in conjunction with a trust to avoid probate. Essentially any items of the decedent that weren’t transferred prior to the decedent’s death – pour over into the trust when the decedent dies. Spouses often use a trust/pour-over will combination.
When should you review a codicil with your Vero Beach wills attorney?
The legal requirements for preparing a codicil are the same as they are for preparing a will. A codicil can modify any terms of the original will. The codicil should specifically reference the original will. When the decedent dies, the will and codicil should be presented for probate at the same time.
Codicils may be used for small changes such as changing a beneficiary, specifying whether you want to be cremated or buried, or for other quick additions. Codicils are also used if someone named in the original wills dies, you have a new child or grandchild, you remarry or divorce, or you acquire a new treasured asset you want to make sure a certain person gets.
A will is generally the better choice if you want to add a trust or there is a likelihood that the codicil might be challenged. You should consider a new will if you acquire an inheritance or other valuable assets.
When Should You Call Lulich & Attorneys about a Vero Beach will?
Estate planning is for everyone. Regardless of your age or circumstances, if you don’t have a will, you should call Lulich & Attorneys in Vero Beach. If you already have a will, keep in mind that you should review and possibly update your estate plan – from time to time.
Tax laws change, and also life events can make your will outdated or obsolete. People die and new family members are born. Minor children grow up. Some children marry and some divorce. Changes like these can be inconsistent with the terms of your will. Also, the change may make you change your mind about where you want your property to go.
To modify a will, or to revoke a will and replace it with a new one, you have to follow very specific rules and requirements. This way, your changes should be valid and immune from attack from persons who may not like the changes you made. Lulich & Attorneys provides sound practical advice and skillful assistance in making sure your wishes will be carried out.
Help is Available from Skilled and Knowledgeable Vero Beach Estate Planning Attorneys
If you live in Vero Beach and do not have a will, or if you moved here from another state or live elsewhere but own property in Florida, call the law offices of Lulich & Attorneys want you to be informed and protected! You can reach us in Vero Beach at (772) 589-5500 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.