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The best time to start an estate plan is now, while you have the capacity to do so.
If you die without leaving a will, you risk that your property will not be distributed as you desire. Your assets will be distributed according to the rules of your state’s “intestacy” statute, not by how close one was to you. Therefore, longtime friends or caretakers will not receive any of your estate. Even when the heirs at law are the same as you would have selected yourself, there is no advantage dying without a will. For example, you lose the opportunity to designate a personal representative, trustee, guardian for minor children, and to do valuable planning. With a well-drafted will you can avoid legal pitfalls, name a personal representative of your estate, name a guardian for your children, establish trusts, and minimize probate-related costs by providing for independent administration. Dying without a will may cause unexpected costs and delays and undesired results for the decedent’s family.
Wills are governed by state law. You should have your out-of-state will reviewed by a Florida estate planning attorney to be sure it will operate effectively in Florida.
A will declares who shall inherit an individual’s assets (the beneficiaries) and who shall be responsible for distributing them to such beneficiaries (the personal representative). For young parents and couples, a will can also be used to appoint a guardian for their minor children and a trustee to manage the children’s money until they are old enough to handle it themselves. A will only becomes effective upon your death, and after it is admitted to probate.
You should have an estate plan if you:
  • Care about who inherits your property;
  • Care about your health care treatment;
  • Are the parent of minor or disabled child; and/or you want to avoid the public proceedings of a possible guardianship and probate.
A properly designed estate plan may:
  • Provide instructions for your care and that of your loved ones in case of your disability;
  • Avoid probate;
  • Keep your affairs private and confidential;
  • Allow you to leave explicit instructions for the care of your loved ones;
  • Save professional fees and court costs.