What to Include in a Will: 5 Topics to Cover

Wills are one of the best ways to ensure that your possessions and assets are distributed how you desire after you pass away. A last will and testament allows your family members to execute your final wishes without having to guess how you would have liked your affairs handled. Deciding what to include in a will can be a challenging task. Many people are nervous that they may forget something or unintentionally exclude a beneficiary. Below, we discuss the top five primary topics you should cover when creating your will.   

  1. Name a Personal Representative  

Personal representatives have a very important role when executing a will. They are responsible for managing the estate bank account, valuing your assets, notifying creditors and beneficiaries about probate proceedings, and distributing your possessions to beneficiaries. Your personal representative is also the primary contact between your family and the court during probate proceedings. When deciding what to include in a will, naming a personal representative is one of the most important things you should include. Choose a close family member or friend who’s comfortable with the responsibility and gets along with most of your family members. You’ll want to consider speaking with your intended representative beforehand to ensure they can take on the task.  

  1. Choose a Legal Guardian for Minor Children  

When you have minor children in your home, naming a legal guardian to take care of them is one of the most important things to include in a will.  No other estate planning document will allow you to name a guardian in the same fashion as a valid will can. If you don’t name a guardian for your children in your will, custody of them will most likely go to the surviving biological parent or a close relative who petitions for their custody if you pass away.  

  1. Divide Your Possessions  

Another item you’ll want to include in your will is naming beneficiaries for your most prized and cherished possessions. While it’s unnecessary to list out a beneficiary for every item you own, you’ll want to list who you’d like to receive many different types of assets in your will, such as family heirlooms, photographs, and jewelry. You’ll want to specify who is entitled to real property you left behind, such as cars, boats, RVs, and houses. If you own intellectual property or a business, you’ll want to include who will inherit those, also.  

  1. Allocate Funds & Financial Asset Division  

Dividing your financial assets is an essential part of what to include in your will. You’ll want to set aside funds for funeral expenses, charitable giving, and other causes that are important to you. You can also allocate funds to friends and family members for specific purposes, such as higher education tuition for your grandchildren.  

  1. Write a Letter of Instruction  

A letter of instruction is a valuable document for your friends and family members to help execute your will, though it’s not legally required. This letter should contain information that will help your family access your assets. This could include banking information, safety deposit boxes, and contact information for lawyers and bankers. You can describe the location of important documents in your home, safe combinations, and online account passwords. You can also use this letter to state your preferences for burial and funeral arrangements and address your family and friends one last time.  

Amending a Will  

Forget something after you draft your will, or need to include additional assets or beneficiaries? Wills can be modified and revoked after they are created. There are two options to modify a will. First, you can create an entirely new will and revoke the old one. You should then destroy previous versions of the will. The second way to modify a will is to create a codicil (also called an amendment). Codicils are added to the original will and allow you to change one specific element of the will without voiding the entire document. Just like when you created the will, codicils should be signed by you and two witnesses to be legally valid. It’s a good idea to review your will every three to five years and make updates as necessary.  

What to Include in a Will: Estate Planning With The Boutty Law Firm 

Don’t stress over what to include in a will. Our legal team at The Boutty Law Firm can help you draft your will and other estate planning documents. Ease the burden of handling your estate with a comprehensive estate plan. From will creation to trust formation, we can help you plan for the future. Call us today at (407) 622-1395 or contact us online to learn how we can help you with your estate planning needs.  


Reasons For Challenging a Will

If you’ve been wrongfully removed from a loved one’s will or believe someone has unfairly influenced how a will was created, you may want to challenge its validity in court. Challenging, or “contesting,” a will is a complex process that can take an emotional toll on family members who have just lost a loved one. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced probate attorney on your side to help you ensure the appropriate legal action is taken. Anyone with a vested interest in the outcome of someone’s will can challenge its validity, even if they aren’t named as a beneficiary. Here are the most common reasons to challenge a will in Florida:  

Undue Influence  

Undue influence is the intentional manipulation of the terms of a will to greatly benefit one person. Undue influence is one of the most common reasons to challenge a will. It happens when someone tries to coerce or threaten the testator (the person who created the will) to make a will that benefits a specific person. For instance, a family member who’s the primary caretaker of an elderly relative may convince your relative to leave everything in their will to them. To prove undue influence, you’ll need to provide evidence that someone persuaded the testator to create the will in a particular way.  

Unlawfully Created  

For a will to be valid, it must follow the guidelines stated in Florida Statute 732.502. The testator must be over 18 and legally able to create a will. The will must be in writing. It also must be signed at the bottom of the document by the testator and two witnesses. It’s preferable that the two witnesses are not beneficiaries in the will.  


A testator must be of sound mind to create a valid will. The testator must have a complete understanding of what they’re doing at the time of signing the document. If the testator has a persistent condition (such as late-stage dementia) that prevents them from fully acknowledging the gravity of the document they’re creating, the will would be invalid. To prove this in court, you may have to provide diagnosis information and testimonies from medical professionals that can authenticate the testator’s condition.  

Wrongfully Removed  

If you feel you have been wrongfully removed from a loved one’s will, you may be able to challenge your removal. To do this, you’ll need to prove that the testator planned to include you in the will but didn’t, either by mistake or coercion. You will need to provide evidence showing your loved one planned to list you as a beneficiary. This could include prior drafts of the will with you listed as a beneficiary or a written statement from the testator before they died about their intention to include you. 


A will made under false pretenses is invalid and can be challenged in probate court. This could include acts such as forgery, lying, and inaccuracies. 

How to Challenge a Will  

You can challenge a will if you stand to benefit significantly from the will’s outcome, even if you’re not listed as a beneficiary. To contest a will, you must file a petition with the probate court handling the estate within 90 days of the Notice of Administration (the formal beginning of probate). The petition should specify whether you want the will to be revoked, modified, or made invalid. It should also explain why you’re challenging the will. After the estate is notified, the case will either be settled or go to a hearing for a judge to determine the will’s validity.  

Boutty Law Firm: Central Florida Probate Attorneys  

Contesting a will can be a challenging and emotional process. However, sometimes there’s too much at stake, and action must be taken to preserve your family’s legacy. At Boutty Law Firm, our experienced legal team can provide the guidance you need to navigate challenging a will. To schedule a consultation, please call our Orlando office at 407-622-1395.


Wills or Trusts: What Should You Use?

Wills and trusts are valuable estate planning tools that help you distribute your financial assets and possessions to your beneficiaries after you pass away. However, wills and trusts serve different purposes. In certain circumstances, having one or both of these tools as a part of your estate planning portfolio may be beneficial. Which should you choose? Below, we discuss what wills and trusts are and when each should be used.

What is a Will?

A will, formally referred to as a “Last Will and Testament,” allows you to divide your assets and personal possessions among your beneficiaries, including family, friends, and charitable organizations. In a will, you can indicate specific individuals to receive anything from real estate property to family heirlooms. You can also allocate funds for particular purposes, like donating to charity or setting aside a college fund for your grandchildren. The process of validating a will and distributing assets is a formal process called probate, which the Probate Division of the Circuit Court in Florida oversees.

When to Use a Will

Wills are best utilized when you want to list your personal possessions and give them to specific people. The assets in your will could be anything of sentimental or financial value, such as your great-grandmother’s handmade quilt, your wedding ring, or a portrait your spouse painted. If you have minor children, a will is needed to name a legal guardian for them if you pass away. You may also include a personal note to your loved ones in your will.

How to Create a Will

For a will to be legal in Florida, it must be a typed, written document that you and two witnesses sign. It is preferred if the two witnesses are not beneficiaries listed in the will. Handwritten wills are not considered valid in Florida courts. Wills only go into effect after you pass away, giving you complete control over your assets while alive. Wills are also simple to amend.

What is a Trust?

The purpose of a trust is to transfer financial assets from your estate to your beneficiaries while avoiding probate. Trusts are financial agreements that closely mimic

business partnerships. They are made between you (the trustor), a person who is in charge of overseeing the trust (a trustee), and the people who will receive the assets placed in the trust (your beneficiaries).

When to Use a Trust

Trusts may be a beneficial estate planning tool if you have many types of financial accounts. Trusts allow you to plan for services like Medicaid and avoid tax penalties for things like life insurance payouts. Another benefit of establishing a trust is that beneficiaries receive their assets in less time than with formal probate proceedings. They also cannot be challenged in court like a will can, accelerating the asset division process.

How to Create a Trust

Trusts go into effect the day they are created. Once you pass away, the assets stated in the trust are automatically transferred to the beneficiaries you list. Trusts are either revocable or irrevocable. You can control the assets inside a revocable trust while you are alive, but irrevocable trusts cannot be changed once made, and you lose access to the assets in them.

Wills or Trusts – Which Should You Use?

In many cases, having a will and a trust makes sense. Each estate planning tool has different goals and purposes, so there are benefits of having both as a part of a comprehensive estate plan. In this situation, a will would be used for you to send a personal message to your loved ones and name beneficiaries for specific assets like family heirlooms, personal possessions, and financial gifts. A will is also needed if you wish to name a guardian if you have minor children. A trust would be used to help manage the financial accounts of your estate and allow your beneficiaries to receive monetary funds in a way that avoids probate and is tax-friendly.

Boutty Law Firm – Orlando Estate Planning Attorneys

Not sure whether a will or trust is right for you? Contact the Boutty Law Firm. We will help you develop an estate plan so that all your assets are divided among your loved ones as desired when you pass away. Contact our Orlando offices at 407-710-0461 for a consultation today.

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