Do I Really Need A Will?
As a fundamental tool in estate planning, a will serves a variety of purposes, from allowing you to outline how you want your final arrangements to be handled to saving your loved ones time and money in probate proceedings. The following outlines some of the many uses for a will, as well as what happens if you pass without one.
What To Include In Your Will
Your will should include a thorough inventory of all your property, such as homes, land, or shares in vacation property, as well as items such as household furnishings, antiques or collectible items, vehicles, and stocks, bonds, or other financial accounts. A personal administrator of your choosing will file your will with the Florida Probate Court and oversee important tasks, such as settling any debts you owe and filing estate taxes, along with carrying out your final wishes. In addition to naming beneficiaries, the following are items you may wish to consider including in your will:
- Instructions for your personal arrangements, such as on a memorial service, viewing, or scattering of ashes;
- Any personal thoughts, instructions, or messages you wish to convey to your heirs;
- Provisions for minor children, including guardianship, timeframes for inheritance, and naming someone to manage their property;
- Provisions for pets, including who should take possession of them and any money or property left for their care and maintenance;
- Bequests to charities and non-profit groups.
What Happens If You Do Not Have A Will
Under Section 732.101 of the Florida Probate Code, if you do not have a properly drafted and executed will in place, your estate will be subject to the rules of intestate succession. If you are married, this generally means that your spouse would inherit your estate, regardless of whether you have children. If you have natural or adopted children from another relationship, your spouse would get half while your children get the remaining half. If you are unmarried with no surviving children, your estate would go to the following people, in this order:
- Your parents;
- If your parents are already deceased, your siblings;
- If one of your siblings is deceased, their children would inherit their share;
- If you have no siblings, your estate would be divided between relatives on both your mother’s and your father’s side, starting first with grandparents and then going on to aunts and uncles.
Identifying heirs when no will is in place is a time-consuming and often costly process, one in which stepchildren, unmarried partners, and close friends are overlooked.
Our Boca Raton Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help
Whether your estate is large or small, you want to know that the assets you have worked hard to accumulate end up with the people you care about most. At the Protect My Assets Law Group in Boca Raton, we make creating a will a simple, pain-free process. We work with you to help identify the goals most important to you, while attending to the necessary legal details so that your will stands up in court. Call or contact our estate planning attorney online today to discuss your options and to see how we can help protect you and those you love.