Wills are documents created so that a person can make their wishes known. This enables their financial estate to be managed according to their wishes in the event that they become incapacitated or lose their life.
One of the reasons why individuals draft wills is to list the valuable and sentimental property that they have and to document their wishes for what they want to happen with those assets when they pass away. Florida's intestate succession rules apply in instances in which an individual dies without a will in place. This generally means that a decedent's possessions will generally go to their next of kin unless they have drafted a will that states something else.
Generally, many years pass between when a testator drafts their will and their personal representative needs to locate it. A lot can change during that time. A testator's property may decrease or increase in value. They may dispose of or acquire new assets. If there's been a significant decline in the value of an estate since the will was first drafted, then the Florida probate judge will rely upon abatement process laws to guide them in dividing up assets among beneficiaries.
As you write your will, are you thinking of leaving someone out, of cutting them out of your estate plan? This is known in legal terms as disinheriting them. Sometimes, it means leaving them out from the beginning when they expected to be included, and other times, it means drafting a new version of a will to remove someone who was in it.
You've never written a will, but one of your adult children recently suggested that you do it. They have children of their own -- your grandchildren -- and they just made an estate plan. They decided they should talk to you about doing your own estate planning.
Say you bought a life insurance policy 10 years ago. You named one of your children as the beneficiary because the other child was still a minor. You just needed to list someone, and that seemed easiest to you.
Although last wills and testaments are spoken about in a general way when they're discussed in the media, the requirements that a testator must adhere to when drafting this legal document vary by state. Florida is no different in this respect.
When a will is read, the hope is that the estate matches what is listed in the will and that the executor can therefore carry everything out as specified in that will. The unfortunate reality, though, is that this does not always happen. In some cases, the will gives out more assets than the estate actually has.
There will come a time in your life when you should have a difficult discussion with your adult children. That discussion is about what they will do and what they will inherit when you die. No one wants to think about or talk about death, but it is an important discussion you need to have. Your adult children should know about your wishes, your will and how the estate will be divided.
There's a curious sort of mindset that people seem to have when thinking about estate planning and drafting a will. On one hand, if asked, they would admit that they need a plan. They know they have assets. They know they have heirs. They know that one day they will pass away and they'll need a plan in place to bring the two together.