By having a will you get to decide who gets your property. You can create a Trust whereby the estate will be kept intact with income distributed to of the members of the family to or accumulated for the benefit of members of the family or others. Minors can be cared for without the expense of guardianship of the property. Real estate and other assets may be sold without court proceedings, if your will adequately authorizes it. A guardian may be named for minor children.

If you die without a will, your property will be distributed to your heirs according to a formula fixed by law. If you have moved to Florida from another state, it is wise to have your will reviewed by a Florida lawyer in order to be sure that it is properly executed according to the laws of Florida, that the witnesses are readily available to prove your will in Florida, and that your personal representative is qualified to serve in Florida. A will is valid in Florida as long as it has two witnesses. However, you will need to prove the witnesses actually witnessed the execution of the will. This requires the witnesses to be available. This can be avoided by adding an attestation clause to the will wherein a notary states that the maker of the will executed the will in the presence of the witnesses and each witness executed the will in the presence of the maker of the will and the witnesses. This makes the will self-proved and may be admitted to probate without the need of locating the witnesses.

The following additional documents should be considered for basic estate planning:

Living Will. By Florida Statute, you may sign a written declaration specifying directions as to the use of life prolonging procedures.

Power of Attorney. This document can assist in handling your property if you become incapacitated, without having to open a guardianship proceeding in court.

Healthcare Surrogate. This allows you to designate a person to make health care decisions for you when you are not able to do so. Included in this important appointment is the power to decide when to withdraw medical procedures.

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