Execute the Will Properly (Part 3)
August 22, 2019
BY: Ned Hamil, Chairman Deermeadows Baptist Permanent Endowment Fund Committee
This is Part Three (3) in a 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.
Execute the Will Properly
If you don’t use an attorney, several websites, like Legal Zoom, offer programs to create a will by yourself. You do, however, have to be careful. An attorney who is skilled in writing wills and the proper execution helps avoid pitfalls you create by trying to save a little money by doing it yourself.
It is best to create a ‘self-proving’ will by taking witness names under oath and notarizing. The minimum requirement in Florida is two witnesses. This is easily accomplished in an attorney’s office where notaries are almost always on site.
Also, be aware, you can’t make any handwritten changes to the will once it’s been witnessed and signed. That will make the document null and void in a court of law. Changes to a will are called codicils. Codicils appended to the will become a part of the will. A codicil must be witnessed with the same formalities as the will itself.
Wills do not cover all Assets
Some types of assets are not covered by a will. They pass according to the type of asset and its ownership.
While wills generally address the bulk of your assets, there are a variety of items that are not covered by the instructions in a will. These items include property jointly owned with your spouse, proceeds from life-insurance policy payouts, retirement assets, assets owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and investment accounts that are designated as transfer on death (TOD).
If you have investment accounts be sure you carefully check the beneficiary designations. The same may be true for bank accounts held by individuals rather than jointly.
As an example, life insurance proceeds pass according to the beneficiary designation in the policy itself. On occasions the beneficiary may not survive the insured (policy holder). Secondary beneficiaries are important and the designations must be reviewed periodically to insure that your intentions concerning proceeds are current.
In our next and last article we will discuss a number of related topics to include the importance of choosing an Executor.
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.