The Purpose Of A Will
When a person dies, all his or her assets become known as the person’s estate. Florida’s probate court oversees the distribution of those assets to the person’s heirs. A will designates those heirs and other beneficiaries named in the will. If properly drafted, a will is a legally binding document that instructs a probate court on how to distribute the estate.
What Happens When A Person Dies Without A Valid Will?
If a person passes away without a valid will, the probate court must determine by itself how to distribute the estate. In Florida, probate courts do this using the state’s law of intestate succession. This somewhat complicated law is designed to distribute an estate to the person’s closest relatives.
Intestate succession may end up distributing a person’s estate in a way that is very different from what the deceased person would have wanted. In some cases, a distant relative can inherit everything, while a close companion receives nothing.
The other main problem with intestate succession is that it is a time-consuming and expensive process, and it’s often quite frustratingly difficult for surviving loved ones. Court fees come out of the estate, leaving less to go around when distributing the estate to the heirs.
When you have a will in place, you have much greater control over where your estate will go. You also greatly streamline the process, allowing you to pass on more of your estate, and saving your loved ones a lot of frustration.
If you already have a will, but have recently been divorced, have remarried or had other significant life changes, it is important to update your will as soon as possible to ensure your wishes for distribution of your estate are current.
Contact Christine Sue Cook, LLC, To Learn More
Attorney Christine S. Cook provides trusted guidance for creating or updating your will. Call 850-572-3443 or send her an email to schedule an appointment for answers to your questions about the importance a valid will and other estate planning documents.