As most people are aware, a will is a document in which you express what you want to happen to your assets after your death. It simply contains your wishes as to how your property is to be distributed upon your death. With a few limitations, you can give your property to whomever you want and for whatever purpose you desire.
In your will, you also will designate the person you want to act as your personal representative after your death. The personal representative (referred to in some states as an executor or administrator) is the decedent’s legal representative who is responsible for administering that person’s estate. The personal representative may pursue legal claims on behalf of the decedent or defend claims against the probate estate. In Florida, the personal representative must be a relative or a Florida resident.
If you have minor children, you may use a will to choose the guardian of your minor children. If you die and there is no other surviving biological or adoptive parent of the child, the will appoints a guardian. Choosing a guardian is an important reason for young couples to make an estate plan. However, this can often be the most difficult decision in drafting your estate plan. When considering who to appoint as the guardian of the minor children, it is important to consider (1) the age of the minor child or children, (2) the willingness of the guardian who you appoint to serve, (3) whether the guardian would have similar values regarding raising your children, and (4) whether your children will fit in with the family of the guardian. It is also important to note that in Florida, courts are not required to follow the recommendation of the parent’s will when it comes to appointing a guardian. The court must still approve your request. It is important to discuss this with your estate planning attorney, as there may be ways to help ensure that your wishes are followed in the event that a guardian is appointed.
It is also important to consider drafting a trust to accompany your will. A trust may allow you to avoid a lengthy and costly probate process. Additionally, having a trust may allow for you to provide funds for your children and care for your pets.