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In Florida, what is the purpose of a Will?

Posted by attorney Donald Lins

There are many purposes for a Will but we will only discuss a few of the primary purposes. First, a Will provides a legal document to designate a person to oversee your final affairs at the time of your death. In Florida, this designated person is known as the "Personal Representative" of the Estate. In other states, this designation is called an "Executor" or "Administrator." Second, the Will provides a legal means to designate who will be the beneficiaries of your Estate. Often, a Will names primary beneficiaries to receive distribution from your Estate and designates alternate beneficiaries in case one or more primary beneficiary predeceases you. Third, a Will provides a means to designate what each of your beneficiaries will receive from your Estate and when they will receive it. Gifts, known as "bequests," can be special bequests leaving specific property to specific beneficiaries or may be general leaving the "residue" (or the "rest") to the beneficiaries in certain percentage amounts. Fourth, a Will can designate a guardian for minor children. If a person dies with minor children but without a Will, the children are at risk of having a court determine their guardian. Finally, a Will may contain trust provisions creating a "testamentary trust." This is a trust that only comes into existence at death and is used to hold bequests for distribution at a later date. Meanwhile, the assets are held and managed by a trustee designated in the Will.

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