Estates, Wills & Trusts

A will is not the only piece of the puzzle

This is one of those almost tragic misconceptions. We hate to bring out the bad news, but our job is to be truthful and realistic. It is simply less certain that your wishes will be carried out if you have no Will. There will still be an Estate Administration, called a Probate.

Without a Will, by Florida law (called intestacy) your assets are split at one-half to your spouse and one-half to your children. If there are no children, then all to your spouse, and vice versa. The pattern begins to get a little murky after that, looking to the other children of your parents as the next group (your siblings), then their children, then their children. Who is in charge? In Florida law, that person is called the "personal representative". "That will be whoever the majority in interest of the beneficiaries elect, with the spouse having priority, but cannot be a person who was previously convicted of a felony.

Then why have a Will? First, is this how you want your assets to go after your death? Are the persons you want to be in charge the ones which the law would appoint? If the answer to either question is "NO," then only by having a Will can you control the result. Only with a properly prepared and executed Will can you control this. If you have more elaborate thoughts? You need a Will! If no member of your family outlives you, and you want your favorite college to benefit - you need a Will! If you do not have a Will, many times the State of Florida is your beneficiary!

NOTE: for planning with tax sensitive issues, trusts may be a consideration.