Kelk Phillips, P.A. provides a wide range of estate planning needs. In this roller coaster of an economy, it is essential to protect your assets and plan for the future. Whether it is wills, trusts, powers of attorney, heath care surrogacies or guardianships, Kelk Phillips, P.A. can take care of your legal needs. Our estate planning practices include, but are not limited to:
If you die without a will (this is called dying “intestate”), your property will be distributed to your heirs according to a formula fixed by law. Your property does not go to the State of Florida unless there are absolutely no heirs at law, which is very unlikely. In other words, if you fail to make a will, the inheritance statute determines who gets your property. The inheritance statute contains a rigid formula and makes no exception for those in unusual need.
When there is no will, the court appoints a personal representative, known or unknown to you, to manage your estate. The cost of probating may be greater than if you had planned your estate with a will, and the administration of your estate may be subject to greater court supervision.
It is “good” until it is changed or revoked in the manner required by law. Your will may be changed as often as you desire while you are sane and not under undue influence, duress or fraud, provided it is changed in the required manner. Changes in circumstances after the execution of the will, such as tax law amendments, deaths, marriage, divorce, birth of children, or even a substantial change in the nature or amount of your estate, may raise questions as to the adequacy of your will. All changes require a careful analysis and reconsideration of all the provisions of your will and may make it advisable to change the will to conform to the new situation.
A will is a written direction controlling the disposition of property at death. The laws of each state set the formal requirements for a legal will. In Florida:
1. You, the maker of the will (called the testator), must be at least 18 years old.
2. You must be of sound mind at the time you sign your will.
3. Your will must be written.
4. Your will must be witnessed and notarized in the special manner provided by law for wills.
5. It is necessary to follow exactly the formalities required for the execution of a will.
6. To be effective, your will must be proved in and allowed by the probate court.
No will becomes final until the death of the testator, and it may be changed or added to by the testator by drawing a new will or by a “codicil,” which is simply an addition or amendment executed with the same formalities of a will. A will’s terms cannot be changed by writing something in or crossing something out after the will is executed. In fact, writing on the will after its execution may invalidate part of the will or all of it.