For Florida residents, having a solid estate plan in place is important to ensure one's assets and property are distributed according to one's wishes after death. Wills are typically considered the cornerstone of any estate plan because they are relatively simple to create and most people are familiar with their concept. However, people may not realize all that wills can accomplish as part of their estate plan.
A will allows a person to explicitly state how his or her assets and property are to be distributed after that person dies. Without a will, a person will be considered intestate, and his or her estate administration will be left up to the probate court. Although it will still have to go through the probate process, a will can help speed up probate because the deceased's final wishes are recorded. When creating a will, a person appoints an executor who will be responsible for all aspects of the estate administration process, so appointing a person one trusts helps alleviate the worry of how one's estate will be distributed.
Along with specifying one's intended heirs, a will can also be used to disinherit certain individuals from receiving any part of one's estate. Although wills can be challenged in court, having a document that explicitly forbids a particular party from inheriting any of one's assets can help avoid lengthy court battles and will ensure that one's assets go to the intended parties. Related to this, a will can also be updated at any time as one experiences significant life changes that warrant a change to the will.
Another important benefit of having a will is that it can help reduce one's estate taxes. A person can give away part of his or her estate to family and/or charities, which will reduce the estate's value, thus reducing the tax obligation. For those with minor-aged children, a will can specify who will be appointed to care for the children instead of leaving such an important decision up to the courts.
Wills are an important tool for one's estate plan in Florida. Although most people procrastinate with regards to creating their estate plans, the truth is that no one can predict the future. Having a solid estate plan in place now will help provide peace of mind and protect one's assets and loved ones for the future.