In this post, my attorney Andrew Gracy writes on the importance of having a will. He is a Florida attorney. Your state may have differences, but the basic concepts are the same.
As a pastor, I’ve seen grieving families confused, anxious, frustrated, or angry over legal matters. You can help avoid that. Write a will. You will feel better and your family members or the courts won’t have to guess what to do with your assets.
As for talking about your death, relax. Talking about and acting on anything related to what happens when you die does not hasten the day of your death. No need for superstition. Just go make your will.
Words from Attorney Andrews Gracy
As a resident of the state of Florida, everyone has a will. The question is whether you wrote the will or was it written for you by the state of Florida?
The purpose of a will
The obvious reason for writing a will is personalization. A will ensures your assets are given to the appropriate people, at the appropriate time, upon one’s death. We spend a lifetime accumulating wealth, and we want to know our hard earned wealth is inherited by the right people or charities that respect and appreciate our gifts. You may not want your assets to end up in the hands of your child’s creditors, or his or her ex spouse.
Should you die with dependent minor children, a will ensures that any benefits and funds you leave for your children are used in the appropriate manner, and not wastefully on desires or frivolous wants. The personalization of a will, in this instance, gives parents an opportunity to choose and name the caregivers to raise their children in their absences.
Another important factor in considering a will is in the case of a disabled or dependent adult child. A sizable sum from your estate might render them ineligible for public assistance. In this situation it is typical to create a trust within the will, which will allow you more control over your assets. This is called a testamentary trust. With a testamentary trust, you can control the purse strings from beyond the grave.
For example, if you have a beneficiary who has multiple creditors, you may want to provide support for that beneficiary but not allow the inheritance to end up with their creditor. You can restrict the use of the funds for very specific purposes such as educational expenses, healthcare needs or support for your loved one.
With a will you also have the opportunity to decide who is in charge of your affairs after you pass, otherwise known as your personal representative (or executor). The personal representative is the person in charge of gathering your assets, making sure your creditors are properly paid, and ultimately distributing your assets to the people or charities you choose.
If you don’t have a will
If you die without a will, your property will be distributed to your heirs, much like a family tree, in accordance with the Florida law. A common misconception is that your assets will end up with the state of Florida. This is simply not true. In order for your assets to end up with the state of Florida, you must have no living relatives of any degree. This is a very rare situation, and can be avoided by drafting a will.
Another common misconception is that a will reduces the cost of probate. Again, not true. Probate is the court oversight of the transfer of assets whether or not you have a will. Assets titled in the decedents name only must pass through probate in order to be legally transferred to the beneficiary. By drafting a will, you have control over the transfer of your wealth to the next generation.
Reasons a will may not be necessary
A will is not always needed. Without a will, when you die, your property is given to your heirs at law, as the laws of Florida provides. Examples of your property include your savings, checking accounts, stocks and bonds, house, jewelry, boats and cars, including that wad of cash stuffed in your underwear drawer. Florida calls this “intestate succession”. What that really means is, if you have no spouse, and four kids, your kids will divide your estate equally between themselves. If any of your children predecease you, their children will step into their parents place and divide that share among themselves. Your estate will always stay with your blood line.
Whether you need a will or not depends on many different factors. As our families change and grow, the necessities of a will can become more apparent. Make sure you consult with a professional to know what will happen when your number comes up. Giving direction to your family can make a complicated matter much easier to handle.
— Andrew Gracy
You decide what will happen upon your death, not a judge who doesn’t know you or your family. You write your will, not the state. If you’re nearby, contact Andrew’s firm and let him help you. Click here or on photo below to reach them. I’m a fan. If not them, find an attorney near you. Save up and spend the money. You’ll feel better when you do. When I walked out with an updated will in hand, I felt surprisingly relieved. I had everything spelled out for my family so they won’t have to guess my desires. If you can’t afford it right now, write a letter with your intentions and have it notarized. It’s better than nothing. You 30 year-olds, I’m looking at you. Don’t put this off. You too, you 40 year-olds. Especially you, 50s and up.
As someone who sits often with families in the emotional pain of the death of a loved one, the idea of making a will is more than a legal issue for me. This is a matter of caring for your loved ones. This is about making sure you act in advance so your family will not have to act in a terrible moment of their life. Love them enough to make a will!
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