Do You Need A Last Will?

Do You Need a Last Will? 

Traditionally the answer has been “Yes,” regardless of the value of your property in your estate at the time of your death. A Last Will is a legal document that sets forth your choices on who gets your property and who is in charge of administering your estate after you pass. If you do not have a Last Will, some of your property in your estate may be distributed under Florida’s “intestate succession” laws. A Last Will is kind of a “must have” legal document if you have a spouse, minor children, valuable tangible personal property (such as: jewelry, collectibles, artwork, etc.), a home, or want to give something to a stepchild, friend, or charity upon your death. You’ll need to have special language in your Last Will to protect disabled beneficiaries, otherwise they may lose their public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid benefits.1 

Many people mistakenly believe that having a Last Will enables them to avoid probate. Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying your property after your death, paying your debts, and appointing a personal representative (often referred to an executor in other states) to oversee the distribution of your property to your beneficiaries named in your Last Will. Going through probate can be more costly than the cost of creating a Last Will. Only probate property and assets are subject to probate, which typically excludes bank payable on death accounts and investment transfer on death accounts. Homestead residences typically go through probate unless certain steps are taken before death.1

For more information or assistance, it is best to contact an elder lawyer to assist you. Kevin Pillion, Esq. was the author of this shortened version of the article found in the Sarasota Herald Tribune on 8/01/2020.

1. Source: Article in the Sarasota Hearld-Tribune Prime Times section 8/01/2020 by Kevin Pillion, Esq

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