Often times, someone will call our office and ask if we do wills. We do.
The next most common question about wills is, “Do I need a will?” My answer will usually be…”It depends…” But, while a will may not meet all of your goals, it is important to have a will, at the minimum. Wills are very affordable, especially for the protection they provide.
A will – or a “last will and testament” – can help you ensure your assets go to whom you wish. Specifically, you can use a will to leave your property to people or organizations. And, in a will, one is able to name the person (a personal representative) who will ensure the provisions of the will are carried out. Without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative.
For parents, a will can provide peace of mind because in it, a parent can also name a personal guardian to care for their minor children. And, also just as important, a parent can name someone they trust to manage or oversee any assets or property they may leave to their minor children until they become of age, themselves.
But, what happens if someone were to pass away without a will?
Well, in Florida, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to Florida Statutes. In general, these laws give your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. If there are also no surviving parents or grandchildren, the distribution will continue down a list of relatives. However, if you have no legal heirs, or family members, the state will get your property.
While sometimes people want to do their own wills, it is important to fulfill the State’s very specific signing requirements. Additionally, should you wish to disinherit someone or if you think someone may contest your will, you may want to consult an attorney to ensure you are appropriately complying with state laws.
It is important to note that a will does not avoid probate. So, while a will does leave specific instructions that may contradict and supersede how the state would distribute your assets, it does not avoid court involvement. But, we will discuss probate a different time.
So, do you need a will? It depends.
But, call the office at (352) 356-8373 and we can discuss your specific needs.
~Natasha M. Allen, Esq.