Everyone knows they need a will, but most people rarely get around to it. Life is busy, and creating a will often gets pushed to the back burner. But here’s the truth: not having a will is a gamble you can’t afford to take.
When you die without a will (intestacy), the probate courts get to call all the shots. They decide how your property is distributed, who takes care of your children, and how your hard-earned money gets divided. That’s not a scenario anyone wants.
While a will doesn’t completely avoid the probate process, it gives you a say—a guiding hand. It ensures that your wishes are heard and respected, reflecting how you want your legacy to be handled.
Don’t leave these critical decisions up to chance. Let our Coral Gables Will Lawyers help you take control of your future and secure your family’s well-being.
Contact us today for a consultation.
What Does a Will Cover?
A last will and testament, commonly referred to as a “will,” is a legally binding document that outlines your wishes to distribute your assets and care for your dependents after your passing. Here’s what a will can address.
A will specifies how you want your assets distributed after your death, from real property and financial assets to personal belongings. It allows you to be specific as you want with your instructions and designate beneficiaries for each account, item or asset.
Guardianship for Minor Children
For parents with minor children, a will is essential for naming a guardian who will care for your children if both parents pass away. This critical decision should be made after careful consideration and discussion with the chosen guardian.
Your will also empowers you to appoint an executor. The executor’s role is to oversee the probate process, ensuring your wishes are carried out efficiently. This role is a huge responsibility and should be held by someone responsible enough to carry it out.
If you have philanthropic interests or causes you hold dear, your will provides a platform to leave a lasting legacy. You can allocate some of your assets to charitable organizations or specific causes, contributing to the greater good even after you’re gone.
For those with beloved pets, a will allows you to designate a caregiver and allocate funds to ensure their continued care. This provision ensures that your furry companions receive the attention, love, and support they need in your absence.
In today’s digital age, your will can include instructions for managing or transferring your online accounts, digital files, and passwords. This ensures that your digital presence is handled consistently with your wishes.
Building Your Blueprint: How to Create a Will
Creating a will is crucial in ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing.
Here’s a guide to help you create a valid and comprehensive will:
- List Your Assets: Make a detailed inventory of your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and valuable possessions.
- Choose an Executor: Select a trustworthy and capable executor who will oversee the distribution of your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out.
- Identify Beneficiaries: Determine who will inherit your assets. Be specific in naming beneficiaries and their shares to avoid confusion.
- Address Guardianship for Minors: If you have minor children, designate a guardian who will care for them if both parents are unavailable.
- Specify Your Wishes: Clearly outline your wishes regarding asset distribution, including specific bequests or conditions.
- Consult an Attorney: An estate planning attorney can provide valuable guidance, ensuring your will complies with state laws, address complex issues, and minimize the risk of legal challenges.
- Draft the Will: Your attorney will draft the will based on your instructions and individual circumstances.
- Keep the Will Safe: After executing your will, store the original document in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box, fireproof safe, or with your attorney.
- Periodic Review: Estate planning is not a one-time event. Regularly review your will, especially after significant life events like marriage, divorce, the birth of children, or the acquisition of substantial assets. Make necessary updates to reflect your current circumstances and wishes.
Creating a will is a vital step in estate planning, but it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. While online DIY tools advertise getting a will at the click of a button, these cookie-cutter documents often fail when your family needs them most.
When you need estate planning done right, you need a team who knows what they’re doing. Put experience on your side with our wills lawyers at Stivers Law.
Beyond Wills: Why a Will Isn’t Enough
While a will is a fundamental estate planning tool, it may not cover all your needs and objectives. Relying solely on a last will and testament leaves significant gaps in your estate planning.
- Limited Control Over Assets: Wills cover probate assets, leaving non-probate assets like life insurance and joint properties untouched.
- Incapacity Planning: Wills only apply after death, ignoring scenarios of incapacity. Documents like a durable power of attorney and healthcare directive are vital.
- Guardianship for Minors: While wills can name guardians for minors, court approval is required. Consulting an attorney for a comprehensive guardianship plan is advisable.
- Privacy and Probate: Wills are public, exposing your affairs. Revocable living trusts offer privacy and avoid probate’s complexity.
- Tax Efficiency: For those with substantial assets, estate planning extends to tax optimization through gifting, trusts, and exemptions.
A will is a foundation, not a complete solution. Consult an estate planning attorney to create a comprehensive plan that covers all aspects of your estate, ensuring your wishes are met and your loved ones are secure.
Contact Us Today to Begin Drafting Your Will
One of the most common misperceptions people have about estate planning, in general, is that it is not necessary unless you own substantial assets.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every adult should have at least a basic estate plan in place.
Assets do not need to have a high monetary value to be valuable. Without a will, the state intestate succession laws will decide how the assets you own are distributed if you die unexpectedly. Don’t let that happen.
Our wills lawyers in Coral Gables can help you get started with your last will to protect you, your loved ones, and your assets. Contact us today for a consultation.