"Creating a will is step one in many estate plans, and crucial when children are involved."
- Karen Estry, Esq.
A will is simply a document one creates in order to leave property to beneficiaries after death. Wills are also used to name guardians for minor children. An attorney can help make certain that a will is legally valid and better able to withstand any contesting of the will.
Several legal requirements exist in Florida in order for a will to be legally recognized:
Other requirements exist, the absence of any could be ground for the will to be declared invalid by a judge. But even when wills are correctly written and legally valid, they are often contested by heirs and would-be heirs in probate court.
Called an "executor" in some states, in Florida a "personal representative" is named in a will by the deceased to handle many will-related affairs, including:
Probate is a court-supervised process in which the deceased's assets are distributed to his or her beneficiaries according to a will, when one is in force. Probate also handles the paying of the estate's debts, and includes a three-month period where creditors may come forward.
During probate, the personal representative of the will may need to liquidate various assets such as real estate, resolve disputes or lawsuits pertaining to the will, and handle creditors' claims, all of which take time.
As such, probate takes at least three months for the creditors' claim period, and often can require 6 months to a year to finalize.