J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Is keeping an original will important in Florida?

A will is the central legal document for many estate plans. Along with the living trust, the will is one of the primary mechanisms through which a person can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes, after their death. Most people who have amassed any substantial assets throughout their lifetime don't want to leave the disposition of their assets to chance. By creating a will or trust, a person does not leave their estate to be distributed based only on default rules under state law.

Although people may be loath to think about their own mortality, they can probably still understand why it is important to create a legally enforceable will. But what about the actual physical document itself: is it important for someone to hang onto it?

The short answer is yes, the physical will document is very important. People in Polk County who are creating a will should discuss, with their attorney, some options for storing the original document. A thorough estate planning attorney will discuss the significance of safely storing the physical will.

Without the original will, an estate administrator will face challenges when it comes to proving his or her authority to handle the deceased person's estate. The original will must be presented to the court in order for the executor to obtain Letters of Administration which authorize him or her to act on behalf of the estate. Banks and investment firms may deny the administrator access to the deceased person's accounts unless the administrator can produce original Letters of Administration.

Securing and storing an original will may sound like a minor detail, but it is important for many reasons. Anyone in Florida who is going to the effort of creating a will should help the beneficiaries of that will avoid as many estate administration and probate issues as possible. Keeping an original will in a safe place is certainly one easy way of helping to accomplish that goal.

Source: Huffington Post, "Estate Planning: Hold on to the Original Will," Suzana Popovic-Montag and Ian M. Hull, accessed on Feb. 20, 2016

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