Justia 10
Rated for Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters
Rated by Avvo
James Martin AV Preeminent 2022
Board Certified in Real Estate Law by The Florida Bar

Last Will and Testament

James W. Martin is a probate attorney in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, whose Board Certification in Real Estate Law by The Florida Bar, assists him in drafting wills and trusts for clients.

Almost every Pinellas County adult has the right to make a will, and there are many excellent Pinellas County estate planning attorneys 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 as an intestate estate to the persons specified in the Florida Probate Code as being your heirs. 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.


If you have the need for a St Petersburg Pinellas County Florida probate attorney, 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.

The text on this page was written by James W. Martin, Esq. and was last updated on May 17, 2023.

Get in Touch

Fill out the contact form or call (727) 821-0904 to schedule your free consultation.
  1. 1 Free Initial Consultation
  2. 2 Over 40 Years of Experience
  3. 3 Pinellas County, Florida Probate Attorney

Leave a Message