Wills Attorney in Bradenton, Florida 

Many people may feel apprehensive or intimidated when they think about drafting a will, but it doesn’t have to be this overwhelming. The truth is, everyone can benefit from having a will in place, and once you get started, you’ll quickly see how estate planning can help you and your family.

However, to get the most out of your will and to ensure it addresses all of your concerns, you should always work with an estate planning attorney who can educate you on your options and help you draft a will that truly meets your needs. If you’re in the Bradenton, Florida, area or anywhere in Manatee County or Sarasota County, reach out to the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox to schedule a consultation. 

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Overview of Wills

A will is the most commonly known and used estate planning document. It’s a legally binding document that can assign an executor for your estate, list whom you want your assets to go to, stipulate how taxes and debts should be paid, as well as name legal guardians for any minor children or even pets.

There are a few different types of wills, but the most common is called a “simple will.” As the name implies, this is the most basic option that many people choose. Joint wills can be drawn up for married couples, which can include marital assets and wishes that the couple shares, but in most cases, it’s preferred that each spouse have their own individual will. Lastly, you may be interested in creating a pour-over will, which is used in tandem with a living trust to address any assets not captured in the trust.

One of the benefits of having a will is that no two are alike, and you and your attorney can craft a will that’s unique to you. Most wills will include a list of all your assets and a list of beneficiaries. These assets can include physical property such as:

  • Real estate

  • Vehicles

  • Jewelry

  • Family heirlooms and other commonly inherited assets

They can also include non-material assets like:

  • Investment or retirement accounts

  • Stock holdings

  • Life insurance benefits

  • Funds in a bank account

You can also use a will to legally name a guardian for any minor children, making this an essential component for parents of young children.

Why Having a Will Is Important

The most common question attorneys get about estate planning is, “Who needs a will?” The simple answer: everyone. Even if you think you’re not old enough to need a will or you don’t have enough assets to warrant one, they can be incredibly useful.

Having a will in place can give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes have been recorded and that your family and loved ones will be provided for once you’re gone. If you die without a will (known as “dying intestate”), you will not only be putting a huge burden on your surviving friends and family, but you’ll also have no say in what happens to your assets after you die. When you die intestate, a judge will appoint someone to be the administrator of your estate, and that person will then be responsible for seeing your estate through the legal process of probate.

During this process, all your assets and belongings must be located, inventoried, and assessed if necessary. The administrator will then decide how they will be dispersed. The administrator will also be responsible for contacting your creditors and paying off any unpaid debt and taxes before your family and heirs receive anything. While it’s true that most wills must go through probate regardless, if you take the time to outline your wishes in a will, this process will be infinitely easier for your loved ones because they won’t be left guessing what you would have wanted.

Difference Between a Will and a Trust

Many people want to know the difference between a will and a trust because these are two commonly used estate planning documents. They are both similar in the fact that they allow you to allocate certain assets to your chosen beneficiaries to receive after you pass away.

A trust, however, does not have to go through the process of probate, which means that your beneficiaries will get their assets immediately without the court’s involvement. Trusts are also kept confidential from the public while wills are not. After your will enters probate, it becomes a public record, and anyone can request to see information from it. Trusts are not open to the public and may be preferable for those who want to keep their finances private. Many people choose to use both a will and a trust in their estate plans, but the benefits of each should always be discussed with an attorney and financial advisor first.

Wills Attorney Serving Bradenton, Florida

If you’d like to learn more about the process of drafting a will, contact the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox today. From his office in Bradenton, Florida, Attorney Wilcox proudly assists clients throughout the Manatee County and Sarasota County areas with various aspects of estate planning. He’s prepared to show you how creating a will can give you peace of mind about your future.