What Happens If You Do Not Have a Florida Estate Plan?

Did you know that research tells us that less than 50% of all Americans have taken the step to protect themselves, their families, and their legacies with an estate plan? Did you know that planning for the end of life is incredibly important? Are you aware that if you pass away without an estate plan your heirs may face difficulty? Not only will they be emotionally upset but there may be great difficulty in sorting out your assets and any debts you may have.

Your estate includes everything you own. It includes your home and any other real property you own, your vehicles, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, cash value life insurance, and personal property. These are all assets that can and will be inherited by someone else upon your passing. It absolutely does not matter how big or how small, everyone has an estate and needs to plan for it.

Sadly, most Floridians do not realize that by not planning for the future, the state of Florida has a plan to follow under its intestacy (dying without a will) laws. We would like to review three reasons why you need, at the very least, a last will and testament in Florida. Your will can help ensure your estate is passed on to your heirs as you want..

1. What does a will do? A will serves as a set of instructions for the personal representative you name to carry out your wishes. If you do not have a will, the probate court in your area will choose someone to be your personal representative. The court will probably choose the closest relative it can find who is willing to take on the job. This may not be the same person you would have chosen, and he or she may not proceed with the care you would wish for your estate.

2. Who will divide your assets? If you do not leave a will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy (dying without a will) laws of your state, which may not be how you would wish them to be distributed. The state intestacy laws usually list the order of those who will inherit from the estate. The closest relatives are generally set to inherit, but depending on which family members survive you, the list may go down to your next closest relatives and beyond. Should you pass away without any surviving family members, it is likely that your property will pass to the state of Florida.

3. Is it always about the money? No. In fact, if you have children, your will should also contain provisions for their care. Additionally, if you want to be buried in a specific manner, you can inform your personal representative in your will. A last will and testament can help make sure all your wishes and requests go as you desire after you pass away.

The experienced team of attorneys here at Hemness Faller, The Law Office formerly known as Emma Hemness, P.A., are here for you and your family and we want to be YOUR estate planning and elder law attorneys. After all, we are ordinary people, providing extraordinary guidance backed by years of experience and advocacy for the vulnerable citizens in our community. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.