So, you’ve done a Will and you’re worried that it’s maybe worthless after you die. How does that happen? I did a Will, how can my Will be worthless after I die? So, a Will only becomes effective at the time of your death. A misconception people have that if they do a Last Will and Testament, a Will not to be confused with a Living Will, but a Last Will and Testament, that some of the things they say in there can apply before they die, and that is simply not the case. If you have said what you want in a Will and you die, it’s still possible that all of that may be worthless. How does that happen?
One way is, it’s not done correctly, it’s not executed properly. See in the state of Florida, we have very stringent, strict executionary requirements. That is signing, must be signed with certain I’s dotted and T’s crossed in order to be legally valid. You may have a document that’s crystal clear that you wrote or a loved one did but, it’s not executed correctly, that is invalid and therefore worthless now.
Maybe it is executed correctly, properly but, it’s not worded correctly or properly. That can also create litigation. It could also make the entire thing worthless if it’s not worded correctly. The words that you use to convey what you want to happen are so critically important to remove what we call ambiguity. That’s having potentially more than one meaning. Lawyers who do estate planning are trained to use the correct, clear wording, to make sure that the Will is executed under the correct circumstances to be legally valid, and to ensure that your wishes occur the way you want them.
The final way that your will may become valid is if it doesn’t exist. So, what do you mean it doesn’t exist? I wrote it, I signed it, but if it got destroyed or lost, it may have zero value even though it was done prior to a death. If it doesn’t exist, it is like it never existed. It is revoked in the eyes of the law and therefore not in existence; and whatever is said in that or was said in that, will not apply.
Estate planning is one of the areas where people think they can just go to an office supply store, go online, fill out forms and nothing can be further from the truth. You can do that, and it might work out that it is legally executed correctly. The terminology used as someone else’s, that might not apply to what you want to happen because it’s a form.
The proper thing for you to do is to meet with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney. Talk about your wishes, your desires, and your particular circumstances so that they can craft the wording exactly the way to make what you want to happen, happen. Then they can assist you, supervise, and make sure that the execution, the signing, is all done correctly and even perhaps maintain the original of that Will for safe keeping. Therefore, avoiding all the ways your Will could become worthless after your death.