We understand how important it is to leave a legacy. Our compassionate Miami will attorney at the Martins Law Firm has years of experience helping clients protect their assets and create their family legacy. Although death can be difficult to think about, the thought of not providing for our loved ones is far worse.
Dying without a will can be disastrous for your estate and your loved ones. A poorly drafted will may result in unintended consequences or may even be deemed invalid by the court. By consulting an estate planning attorney, you can feel confident in the knowledge that your wishes will be carried out.
A will is a document that most people think of when they hear the phrase “estate planning.” Known as a last will and testament or simple will, this important legal document outlines your final wishes as it relates to the distribution of your assets, custody of minor children, and even funeral preferences.
What Happens If Someone Dies Without a Will?
If you die without a will, the state will decide how your assets will be distributed. Chapter 732 of the Florida Statutes sets out the order of succession:
- The surviving spouse is first in line. There must be a valid marriage. If there are no children, the spouse receives everything.
- Children are next in line. If there is a surviving spouse, they will receive half, and the other half will be divided among the children. Children must be biological or legally adopted. Step-children are not included.
- If a child died before the deceased, their children might inherit their share.
- The estate will be divided between the deceased’s surviving parents if there is no surviving spouse or children.
- The deceased’s siblings will share the estate if there are no surviving parents.
If the court is unable to determine any eligible relatives, the entirety of your estate will pass to the state of Florida.
Possible Consequences of Not Leaving a Will
- You and your spouse are estranged but not legally divorced. Without a will, your entire estate would pass to your estranged spouse.
- You fell out with your brother many years ago. Without a will, the court may name him as the executor of your estate.
- You remarried after a divorce and love your step-children as if they were your own. Without a will, your step-children will be left in the cold.
- You help to support a child from your local church financially. Without a will, you would not be able to leave anything for this child.
- You are a proud donor of a charity that is near and dear to your heart. Without a will, the court will not know that you wish to leave a large donation upon your death.
- Your teenager receives a large inheritance and is irresponsible with the money. A will could have attached conditions to the inheritance, such as waiting until the child attains a certain age or graduates college.
A will does a lot more than just distributing your assets. It can also be used to put someone in charge of your estate, name guardians for your children, and outline your funeral preferences. By not leaving a will, you lose the opportunity to provide these important instructions.
Types of Documents Drafted by a Miami Will Attorney
A simple will is the most common form of estate planning. It is the document that first comes to mind when you hear the word “will.” A simple will allows you to distribute your assets as you see fit. You can also name guardians for your children in your will. Although there are many do-it-yourself wills, it’s always best to seek guidance from a Miami will attorney. A simple error in a will can result in unintended consequences, frustration, and added expenses. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help ensure that your wishes will be fulfilled.
A testamentary trust is detailed in your will, and the trust is established upon your death. Your will instructs your executor to create the trust, go through probate, and transfer assets into the trust for the benefit of your named beneficiaries.
A living will prepare for incapacitation rather than death. It outlines your desires and instructions in the event of mental or physical incapacitation. This document is an important yet often overlooked estate planning instrument. A living will allows you to provide instructions for your healthcare, finances, and guardianship of your children.
Although a will is a key component of estate planning, there are many other elements to a solid estate plan. A Miami will attorney can also assist with reducing estate taxes, healthcare directives, and appointing a power of attorney. Contact us to schedule a consultation.Book your strategy session