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Tips for avoiding common mistakes when writing a will

Although individuals may have a clear idea of how they want to transfer money, possessions or pay off debts of their estate after their passing, certain mistakes are commonly made. Today’s post offers advice on how to avoid common errors.

First, Florida state law provides certain rules about what makes a will or last testament legal and enforceable. An attorney that focuses on estate planning can help individuals understand these requirements, such as whether the will must be witnessed and/or notarized, and whether precise wording is required.

Part of writing a will can also be choosing an executor who will carry out the financial affairs of the estate. That person should be capable of filing probate documents according to the court’s timetable, paying off estate debts and responding to any creditors’ claims against the estate. In fact, a lawyer might even recommend designating a backup executor as a safeguard.

Working with a lawyer can also be a good strategy for planning for various contingencies. For example, an individual might acquire additional property after drafting a will. With a pour-over trust or other estate-planning instrument, such unaccounted for property won’t have to go through probate court. A lawyer can also prepare a checklist for various property items. Big assets, like real estate, often top the list. However, a comprehensive estate plan should also include smaller property items.

Finally, a lawyer can also coordinate an estate plan with various accounts that have designated beneficiaries, such as retirement accounts or life insurance policies. Such items can be easily overlooked because they don’t go through probate. Nevertheless, they contribute to an estate’s overall value, so a comprehensive plan should also give them consideration. Check out our firm’s website page on probate to learn more estate planning tips. 

Source: USA Today, “What's your retirement IQ? For most, it's lousy,” Rodney Brooks, Dec. 3, 2014


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