Dear Juris Doctor;
I am 70 years old and I have never had a Last Will and Testament. Last week I married a woman I have known for 14 years. She was a friend of my deceased wife and me. I have two children from my prior marriage. I have grandchildren who are minors. My investments dwindled after 2001. I own my home, some bank accounts and personal property. I have been told that, if I die without a Will, the State of Florida will receive all my assets. Is that true?
Michael in Jupiter
Posted : September 10, 2010
I have heard that question so often and the answer is No – in most cases. If you die without a Will you are intestate under Florida law. In that case the Probate Court Judge decides who administers your estate and Florida Statutes direct to whom your probate assets will be distributed. You have no choice in the matter. Your wife and children will receive the percentages outlined by the law. With a properly executed Last Will and Testament, you select the Personal Representative and you decide who will be the beneficiaries of your assets. You decide how your wife, your children and grandchildren should share your property and if restrictions or limits should be placed on the distributions. Your Last Will and Testament can be customized if you have spendthrift or drug or alcohol dependent beneficiaries.
Your personal circumstances need to be evaluated and then you can determine which estate planning documents are best for you. You should evaluate Last Wills and Testaments, Estate Taxes, Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, Gifts, Family Partnerships, Joint Ownership of Property,Payable on Death Accounts, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills and Do Not Resuscitate Orders.