Justifying Your Legacy With A Will
Here’s the truth – you have a legacy that should be protected. Unless you own absolutely nothing and have no possessions, then you have a legacy to care about. The second thought, and one that we often avoid is, “What would happen to everything you own upon your death?” We can attest to the fact that many who have gotten a will with us have all mentioned the same thing: “Why didn’t we think of this sooner?” We believe that’s because people do not fully comprehend the complexities that can occur when you die without a will.
We are the Orlando Law Group, an 11-year-old, full-service law firm located in Central Florida helping our community with all of their legal matters. In this blog, we will discuss the merits of having a complete estate plan, and how that can protect your legacy and its transference to your loved ones. No one wants to think of what would happen if they passed away, but it is necessary to make sure your possessions get passed along the way you prefer, and not caught in the convoluted purgatory of probate.
What Happens When You Die Without A Will?
Dying without a will is called dying “intestate.” If you die intestate the Florida Intestacy Statutes will determine the distribution of your assets at death. This was brought into the mainstream news when Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away in August of 2020. He, after a four-year battle with colon cancer, died without a will, with an estate at an estimated value of $938,500, according to papers filed in Los Angeles County probate court. The truth is it isn’t uncommon to die intestate. In some situations, you may be content with the plan that the lawmakers determined for you, and in other situations, you may not be so happy with it. Along with not being able to decide who gets your property after you die, there are many other pitfalls that come with dying without a will that you may not be able to foresee.
Time Consuming Constraints
While dying with a will does not mean that the distribution of your property is a quick and painless process, dying without a will is surely a long, drawn-out process. If you die without a will in Florida and probate is required, a Personal representative (commonly known as an “Executor”) must be appointed. If you were to die with a will, you would have designated a personal representative in the will. Without a will, you do not get to choose your Personal Representative. This could potentially open the door for disputes among the beneficiaries as to who should be appointed as Personal Representative. They will quiet literally be forced to guess what your wishes would have been.
When you create your will, your attorney will discuss ways to avoid probate. Although probate is not especially expensive or complicated, the fights over who will administer your estate and be in charge of distributing your assets most certainly are, not to mention the fact that they can cause permanent rifts in the family. The cost to not having a plan that comes from you can be grave, and that is where so much of the value in having an estate plan can help. It takes the pressure off of your loved ones to wonder what you would like done with everything you own. Now, instead of guessing and speculating, they can carry out your wishes to specification. For many families, it is a way to come together to make sure your will is carried out, rather than argue and battle over what they thought you would have wanted. Probate is a complicated matter, but if you would like to read more about probate, we discuss exactly that in our blog right here.
Alleviating a Stressful Situation
We at The Orlando Law Group like to look at an estate plan as a gift from you to your family. It sounds odd, and the truth is that they will not realize it’s a gift until they’ve seen what can happen without one. When you observe families that have gone to literal legal war over estates, you realize that it all could have been avoided with the power and authority coming from the deceased. They could have set the record straight on how they wanted their possessions handled, but because they did not, their family is left to try and figure everything out. Emotions become raw, and greed can get the best of even the best of us when we are emotionally vulnerable.
It does not have to be this way. For the most part, having a comprehensive estate plan and someone designated to carry it out creates peace during a time of grieving. You want your loved ones focused on remembering what a beautiful life you lived, not worried about what you would have wanted your estate plan to be. With all that we have gone through in the last year, we know first-hand how precious life is. We fully comprehend how fast a situation can change, whether that be through an unexpected diagnosis or through a freak accident. We say this to help everyone understand what we understand: that a will is not for the dying, but rather for the living.
If you have questions about anything discussed here or involving estate planning, probate, or any of your legal needs, feel free to give us a call at 407-512-4394. You will reach our Waterford Lakes office, which can connect you to any of our other numerous locations. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience when it comes to what is involved in a comprehensive estate plan, and they would be happy to answer any questions that you have. Thanks for reading, and if we could leave you with one thought it is this: “Your legacy matters, so don’t wait to take measures to protect it.”