A will is a fundamental estate planning tool in Florida, but it may not be the only tool you need. State law, life insurance policies, trusts and other factors may mitigate the effectiveness of your will.
Knowing what to address in your will and what may be appropriate for other agreements is essential for an effective Last Will and Testament.
Prior agreements may override your will
When making your will, you may dictate that your home should go to a certain family member or loved one. But as the Florida Bar explains, if you own that home with another person or have a surviving spouse who lives there, the law may override your will and give it to the spouse or joint party instead.
Your will may not change the beneficiaries you selected on your life insurance policies; it may not override the terms of a trust you already created. In most cases, terms of established contracts will override your will. You generally can only dictate those assets which remain after settling other agreements.
Family relationships may override your will
Certain family relationships may also mitigate the effectiveness of your will under Florida inheritance laws. For example, you cannot disinherit a surviving spouse, and even if you expressly state that you wish to pass your inheritance to another, your spouse will have a legal claim on a substantial portion of your property.
Contrary to some states, you may be able to disinherit your children in Florida if you expressly state the desire to disinherit them, but the law may still require provisions for minor children. And if you simply neglect to mention a child in your will, he or she may be able to claim that you accidentally forgot to provide for him or her in your will and still seek a portion of your estate.