Are you a senior adult, living in the great state of Florida? As a retiree are you enjoying family, golfing, boating and visiting with friends? Are you enjoying the ability to live after working so very hard for all you have set aside for yourself and family? But have you made plans for your future and your family in the event you become disabled or you pass away? According to research over 50% of Americans do not have an estate plan or even a will in place. Unfortunately, without an estate plan or will in place your family may face difficulty if you become disabled or after you pass away, including sorting out your assets and any debts you may have. 

To begin, when it comes to estate planning, it does not matter whether your estate is big or small, everyone has an estate and needs to plan for it. In fact, everything you own is included in your estate. Your home, your cars, boats, trailers, and all other real property you own, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, cash value life insurance, and personal property. These are all assets that could be inherited by someone else upon your passing. 

What can happen to your estate if you die without a will or intestate, which means you died without a will?  In Florida if you die without a will, intestate, the state of Florida has a plan to follow under its intestacy laws. No one wants the state of Florida to make decisions for their hard earned assets. What can you do? We would like to make three points in regard to what you need to know about not having a Florida will or estate plan. 

  1. Without a Florida estate plan or will in place you cannot choose a trusted decision maker to be your agent in any powers of attorney, personal representative in your will or trustee in your trust.  A will serves as the legal guide for the personal representative you name to carry out your wishes. If you do not have a will,  the probate court in your county will step in. The court will choose someone to be your personal representative who will probably be the closest relative the court can find who is willing to take on the responsibility. Unfortunately, this may not be the same person you would have chosen, and he or she may not proceed with the care or knowledge of your wishes for your estate. 
  2. Without a Florida will, no one will know all your assets and how they are to be divided. To repeat, if you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of the state of Florida. Know that this may not be how you would have wished them to be distributed. The order of those who will inherit from your estate are listed according to the Florida intestacy laws. The closest relatives are generally set to inherit, but depending on which family members survive you, the list may go down to your next closest relatives and beyond. If you pass away without any surviving family members, your property will probably pass to the state of Florida.
  3. Without a Florida will it may not only be assets that are impacted. Having a will in place is extremely important if you have minor children, it will allow you to make provisions for your children and their care. In addition, if you want to be buried in a specific manner, you can put instructions about this in your will. A last will and testament can help you make sure things go as you want after you pass away.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services.  By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.