If you don’t have a Last Will, a Court decides who inherits your Assets.
A Last Will is the legal instrument that allows you to manifestly declare whom you want to inherit your estate, your properties.
If you die without a Will, it is up to a court to decide who inherits your assets, regardless of your intended wishes, and without any obligation toward the needs of your loved ones.
The laws that regulate situations where someone dies without a Will may vary from state to state. Broadly speaking, if you die and leave a spouse and children, your estate will be divided between your surviving partner and your kids. If you are single and have no children, the State will probably divide your assets between your close blood relatives, or will decide who among them will receive your inheritance.
A Will can be revised at any time and as often as you wish – it’s actually good to go over it from time to time, alone or with your attorney, particularly if your marital status or partnership changes; you should also review periodically your beneficiary designations in your life insurance policy, pension, IRA, and 401(k), as those accounts are automatically transferred to your indicated beneficiaries when you die.
A Will is also valuable when there may be surviving minors, as you can declare your choice of a legal guardian for your children.
Does a Trust replace a Last Will?
Even if you have a Trust, a will is still necessary and useful to cover the assets that are not included in your Trust. A Trust has certain advantages, as it lets you put conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die, it reduces estate and gift taxes, and helps to protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits; however you still need to have a Will, since most trusts don’t deal with the sum total of your holdings, but rather with specific assets (i.e., a piece of property, a business, an art collection, etc…).
There is also a type of trust called “Revocable Living Trust” which allows you to incorporate the bulk of your assets – in this case you will need what is called a “Pour-Over Will” which let you name a guardian for your children, and ensures that all the assets you intended to be included in the trust go in there, even if you failed to re-title some of them before your death.
Everyone’s case is unique, and West Palm Beach Estate Planning Attorney Alfred G. Morici can advise you on your specific situation. If you would like to speak with Attorney Alfred G. Morici, call him today at 561-
471-2551, or contact him online. He has more than 35 years of experience in Florida Estate Planning, offers free consultations, and will answer your questions.