by: Andrew Jackson, Esq. ~ Jackson Law
Let’s start off with what happens if you do not have a Will. If you die without a will (this is called dying “intestate”), your property will be distributed to your heirs according to a formula fixed by law. Your property does not go to the State of Florida unless there are absolutely no heirs at law, which is very unlikely. In other words, if you fail to make a will, the inheritance statute determines who gets your property. The inheritance statute contains a rigid formula and makes no exception for those in unusual need.
When there is no will, the court appoints a personal representative, known or unknown to you, to manage your estate. The cost of probating may be greater than if you had planned your estate with a will, and the administration of your estate may be subject to greater court supervision.
So, here is what having a Will can accomplish:
1. You decide who gets your property instead of the law making the choice for you.
2. You may name the personal representative (executor) of your will as you choose, provided the one named can qualify under Florida law. A personal representative is one who manages an estate, and may be either an individual or a bank or trust company, subject to certain limitations.
3. A trust may be created in a will whereby the estate or a portion of the estate will be kept intact with income distributed or accumulated for the benefit of members of the family or others. Minors can be cared for without the expense of proceedings for guardianship of property.
4. Real estate and other assets may be sold without court proceedings, if your will adequately authorizes it.
5. You may make gifts, effective at or after your death, to charity.
6. You decide who bears any tax burden, rather than the law making that decision.
7. A guardian may be named for minor children.
Take control of what you can, while you can, and eliminate the expense and burden from an already difficult situation for your loved ones.