You’ve probably heard that everyone needs a will, but do you know why the document is so important? If you die without a will in Florida, the state decides who gets a share of your estate.
Anyone older than 18 can create a will to make their final wishes known. In addition to specifying how you want your assets disbursed, your will serves a number of additional and important functions.
Purposes of a Will
You can use your will to designate an executor for your estate, specify methods of payment for any debts and outstanding taxes, and provide for your pets.
Most importantly, your will can name guardians to care for your children after your death. This vital document also can identify the assets to go to children from a previous marriage.
In addition, your will can ensure that the charities you choose receive your intended gifts.
What if You Die Without a Will?
If you die intestate — or without having created a will — in Florida, the state distributes your assets according to a predetermined priority order, including:
- Your spouse receives the whole estate if you have no other heirs.
- Your spouse receives half of the estate if you have one or more surviving children who are not also the children of your spouse.
- Your children receive the entire estate if your spouse is no longer living.
- Your parents receive the estate if you have no surviving children or spouse.
The Role of a Trust
When you create a trust, you ask a third party to control your assets for the future benefit of your heirs. Trusts typically avoid probate, which may allow your heir’s access to your assets more quickly than with the use of a will.
In addition, different types of trusts can help you accomplish a variety of goals in your estate planning. With an irrevocable trust, for instance, the estate may owe fewer taxes upon your death.
Work with a Wills and Trusts Attorney in Florida
Proper estate planning is critical for protecting your assets and ensuring a secure future for your heirs. For a personal consultation, please contact Florida wills and trusts attorney Antonina Vaznelis.