Do you have a will? (Part 1)
August 8, 2019
DO YOU HAVE A WILL?
BY: Ned Hamil, Chairman Deermeadows Baptist Permanent Endowment Fund Committee
This is Part One (1) in a Four (4) part series presenting ideas you may want to consider in ensuring that your wishes are carried out through a will or trust. In working through this process you might consider leaving a charitable gift to the Deermeadows Baptist Church Permanent Endowment Fund.
If you think everyone has a will you may be surprised to learn that 45% of Americans over age 55 do not have a will. This is according to a survey by Merrill Lynch and Age Ware. If you were surprised to learn this somewhat alarming statistic you will be less surprised to learn when interviewed the majority of those without a will responded that “I just never got around to it.”
The purpose of this series is to encourage those in the 45% category to “Get around to it”. Perhaps you might be intimidated by the process and the complexity of writing a will. Hopefully though this series of articles the process will be less intimidating and you will be motivated to create a will.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property. In order to execute an enforceable will or make changes to your will, you must be of sound mind, meaning that you must be competent and able to understand the nature and disposition of your property. Do not wait until it could be too late for you to execute a will or make changes to your will. Also, it is necessary that both spouses make separate wills.
To maximize the likelihood that your wishes are carried out, you want a will that is set forth in writing and signed by you and your witnesses (see self-proving/testamentary will, below). If your will does not meet these standards, your instructions may not be carried out. You should consult with a professional to make sure that your will is in compliance with all the required formalities.
Not every form of will meets acceptable standards. The varieties of wills may include the following:
Self-Proving/Testamentary Will: A testamentary will is the traditional type of will with which most people are familiar. It is a formally prepared document that is signed in the presence of witnesses as required by law. A self-proving will is one where a notary is present and notarizes everyone's signature on the will. Self-proving enables the will to be more easily submitted to the court for probate. In probate, the court will undertake to make sure that your directions in the will are carried out.
Holographic Will: Holographic wills are written without the presence of witnesses. Holographic wills are not recognized in Florida.
Oral Will: Oral wills are spoken testaments given before witnesses. Oral wills are not recognized in Florida.
Living Will: A living will has nothing to do with the distribution of assets, but rather sets forth your wishes for medical care in terms of life support should you become incapacitated. This is a subject for a later discussion. Sometimes the term Advance Directive is used.
For our purposes the Self Proving/Testamentary Will, which is self-proving, is the best distribution of your assets. A well-drawn will prepared by an attorney who is familiar with the law is both wise and affordable.
In the next article we will discuss WHY you need a will.
Disclaimer: This information is not to be considered as legal, financial or investment advice. One should contact their CPA, Financial Advisor or attorney to determine appropriate actions for your individual situation. You may feel free to contact a member of the Deermeadows Endowment Committee for general information about the topics discussed.
Sources for this article(s) include a variety of publications and articles.