The Orlando Law Group

Trust, Wills & Estate Planning

We all remember the scene in the movie where the children gather around the attorney’s desk, usually situated in a dark library, to listen to the reading of the will. Maybe there’s a video version where the deceased is reading their will.

They all hope they will be the ones receiving the fortune of a long-forgotten relative only to hear the fortune will be given to the cat.

While that creates great drama – or comedy – that is not reality.

Our goal is to take away the drama for your surviving loved ones.

And the key to that is your will.

Simply put, a will is a document establishing how you want your estate to be treated, along with other aspects of your life. One of the key provisions of your will is what happens to your minor children if that is applicable to your situation.

If you do not have a will, your estate will be handled by a judge in accordance with Florida law. That may or may not be what you want your legacy to be. The will makes sure the judge, the court and your family clearly understand what your desires are for after your death.

Here is a complete article we published on all the aspects of what happens without a will. You will see why we recommend everyone have a will.

A will can be simple to put together, however, our team has spent their careers working with individuals on creating their will. We will work with you to ensure everything you need to cover is contained in the will.

What should be in a will

Every will should be a little bit different because no two people have the exact same circumstances. That is why it is always recommended you work with an attorney to prepare a will.

But there are some overreaching items that should be in every will. They include:

  • All the applicable property and assets that will need to be dispersed when you die. Not all property is applicable, however.
  • Instructions for your minor children.
  • Who will receive the assets – your beneficiaries. Yes, this can be your cat, but we highly recommend against leaving significant assets to furry friends, although you can designate what happens to them in the will.
  • Who will be your personal representative or executor.

If any of these items are not in the will, it will fall to the judge to make the decisions.

What should not be in a will

We wrote a great article about this a couple of years ago. You can find that here.

To summarize, a will is not a place to say that you would like your ashes to be spread across your favorite beach or over the place you met your soul mate. It is not the place to put stipulations on your assets – like the old movie Brewster’s Millions. It is not the place to list off life insurance policies you have or even the house you jointly own with your husband.

For goodness’ sake, do not put anything in your will that might hint of illegal activity!

There is a lot more that should not be in a will, much of which is determined by your specific case. As with most legal issues, there is not a list of “do and do nots.”

Why an attorney is necessary

This is why an attorney is essential. Our team of estate planning experts have worked through most situations dealing with estate planning and writing wills.

Even for what might be a simple will, it is recommended an attorney be used because no two wills are going to be the same. Everyone has different types of assets and different amounts of assets.

Wills are one place where many people turn to online forms, thinking their circumstances cannot be complicated. We wrote an entire article on this, but a key aspect is to remember the people providing these forms are not attorneys. They cannot advise you on your unique circumstance. They can only provide you with help filling out a form.

Your family is more important than relying on an online form. The attorneys at The Orlando Law Group are here to help you with your will to protect your family and your interests.

If you live in Orlando, Sanford, Lake Nona, Winter Garden, Altamonte Springs, Windermere or anywhere in Central Florida, please reach out to us today about estate planning to minimize probate.

Frequently asked questions about wills

What do I need to create a will?

Our attorneys will work with you to make sure you do not leave anything out of your will, but at a minimum, you will need to create a list of all assets you own.

Do I include my healthcare wishes in this document?

If you are interested in making sure you have care directives in case you are incapacitated and cannot express your wishes, we can help with that. That would be a separate document, often referred to as a healthcare surrogate.  There are also living wills which are more simple.

Does a will help me avoid probate?

Wills are an essential part of the probate process. Having a will does not help your loved ones avoid probate as it is required in some form in nearly every death. It will make probate significantly easier as many of the issues needing to be covered by probate will be already determined with a will – and your wishes.

Can a will be challenged?

Any legal document can be challenged through the courts, but, again, that is usually the center of movie plots rather than reality. If a will was created by an attorney, there should not be an opportunity for a challenge to be successful.

How does a trust affect my will?

A trust can help protect your assets by placing them in a unique and separate entity that manages the assets on your behalf. Creating a trust eliminates assets from going through probate, but this only applies to assets you specifically put in your trust. Of course, every case is unique, but trust is certainly something we can discuss when you are looking for complete asset planning.

What are the costs associated with a will?

Every will is a little bit different, so the costs to complete a will can vary greatly. The cost of a will almost always will be less than the cost – both emotionally and financially – of not having a will when you die.

If you would like to schedule a consultation for wills or any estate planning issue, please reach out to our office at 407-512-4394, fill out our online contact form or save this information in case you ever find yourself or a loved one needing to use it.