Last Will and Testament

Almost every Pinellas County adult has the right to make a will, and there are many excellent Pinellas County estate planning lawyers who draft wills for their clients. There is no standard form of will so Pinellas County estate plan attorneys often create their own will forms to use as a starting point for drafting their clients’ wills.

 If you die without making a will, or if the signed original of your will cannot be found, then your probate estate passes by what is called intestacy to certain persons specified in the Florida Probate Code. If you want to name who gets your probate assets at your death and who handles your probate estate at your death, then you need to make a will.

Florida probate law is based on the English common law as it existed on July 4, 1776, which allowed the making of wills under the English Statute of Wills that was enacted in 1540. But, prior to that, English law required that only the firstborn legitimate child could inherit real estate. So, the right to make a will is an important right that every Pinellas County resident should claim by making a will, keeping it in a safe place, and keeping it up to date.

Any person who is of sound mind and who is either 18 or more years of age or an emancipated minor may make a will.”

Florida Statutes Section 732.501

Even those who create a revocable living trust and transfer all of their assets to the trust to avoid probate should make a will for two reasons. First, there are some assets that might not exist until death, such as a wrongful death lawsuit arising out of an auto accident. Second, the only way a person may name a personal representative for his or her probate estate is by making a will. The person who dies without a will loses the right to name the probate estate beneficiaries and personal representatives, even if the person created a living trust.

Another reason to make a will even if there is a living trust is that probate will probably be required in order to clear claims of creditors. The Florida Probate Code provides that the typical revocable living trust is liable for claims of the decedent’s creditors.

Any portion of a trust with respect to which a decedent who is the grantor has at the decedent’s death a right of revocation…is liable for the expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate to the extent the decedent’s estate is insufficient to pay them…”

Florida Statutes Section 733.707

The Florida Probate Code provides a two-year statute of limitations for claims against decedents, but that deadline can be reduced to three months by publishing and serving notice to creditors. But, only the personal representative of a probate estate is allowed to provide notice to creditors, so even when a person dies with all his or her assets in a living trust, we often open a probate proceeding in order to reduce the creditor claims period to three months.

Contact

If you have the need for a St Petersburg Pinellas County Florida probate and estate planning lawyer, you may use the contact form below or call Jim Martin directly at 727-821-0904 or email him at jim@jamesmartinpa.com for a free initial consultation.

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Fill out the contact form or call (727) 821-0904 to schedule your free consultation.
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