What do Wills cover?
A will generally only covers assets that are titled in your name at death and which do not have a designated beneficiary. Life insurance policy proceeds are paid to the named beneficiary on the policy filed with the insurance carrier. Retirement plans that hold assets, such as 401(k) or IRA, are transferred to the person you have named as the beneficiary in the plan documents. In both, life insurance and retirement plans, your Will’s beneficiaries are not affected and accordingly do not collect the proceeds (unless they are named as the respective beneficiaries under the insurance policy or retirement plan).
Certain securities and brokerage accounts designate one or more beneficiaries to receive the assets in the account upon the account owner’s death. In these policies, the names of the beneficiaries are preceded by the words “transfer on death” or “TOD.” Other accounts or assets such as bank accounts or savings bonds, may be held in this similar form indicated by the words “paid on death” or “POD.”
Married couples holding property or assets with the right of survivorship as shown by the legal title will transfer to the surviving spouse upon the death of the other. These properties or assets pass directly to the surviving spouse without being affected by the will. The state bar has information on Florida Wills which can be found in their consumer pamphlet. Additionally, Florida Statute Section 732 guides Florida wills issues, creation, and much more.
What happens if I die without a will in Orlando, Florida?
Dying without a will is referred to as intestate. If you die without a will, Florida law will determine who the beneficiaries of your estate are. If you are married, your spouse will receive all of your community property. In regards to your other assets, it depends on if you have children or not. In Florida, your spouse will take your entire estate if you have children, all of whom are also descendants of your surviving spouse, so long as the dead spouse does not have any other children. If you don’t have any children, your spouse takes your entire estate. If children of a different marriage do exist, the surviving spouse will take one-half of the intestate estate and the children who are not part of that marriage will split the other half. I should note here that legal separation does not blockade the spouse from receiving anything. Only a valid and legal divorce will sever the relationship. You should adjust your estate plan during separation and before a final divorce decree is granted!
If a person dies intestate (without a will) and does not have a spouse or children, his/her property will go to their parents. If they don’t have parents alive, the property will go to the descendants of parents (siblings or their issue). If they have no siblings or nieces/nephews, then the property will go to the maternal and/or paternal grandparents or descendants thereof. If they don’t exist either, then their property will go to other related family members. If none of the before-mentioned relationships exist, their property will pass to the state.
Can I change or revoke my Florida Will?
You can change and revoke your will at any time. A codicil (an amendment to your will) can be used to change your will, but it must be drafted and executed in the same manner as a will and an Orlando estate planning attorney at The Private Corporate Counsel Firm can help with this. Additionally, if you create a legally valid will and execute it properly, it will automatically revoke your old one. The most recent valid will is the one that is used to distribute your assets upon your death.
If you get married or divorced, you should seek the advice of an estate planning attorney in Orlando and make a new will. You should also periodically check your will when there are other major changes in your family such as births and deaths, when your assets increase or decrease in value, or when you no longer need a guardian or executor to act in their capacity.
Who should know about my Will?
No one except you and the Orlando estate planning lawyer should be aware of the exact contents of your will. Your executor, close friends, or the beneficiaries should know where to find it. The original should be kept in a safe place such as a fireproof box or safe deposit box.
Do I need a professional to draft me a will?
Yes! There are many providers or websites out there that advertise “do it yourself” wills. This is not a painting project or a DIY activity. We are talking about protecting your assets, your families harmony, and your peace of mind. Such websites should be avoided at all costs because they do not provide the protections that a licensed Orlando estate planning attorney can. Additionally, many times they are not up to date and could be completely invalid if not drafted and executed in the correct manner.
Is a will the best way to protect my estate?
In deciding whether to use a will or a trust to protect your estate, some factors your lawyer will consider are your:
- Marital status & family unit
- Current needs & protections
- Acquired assets & personal items
- Estate planning goals
There are other options such as trusts that allow you to manage the assets while you are alive so long as the assets are named correctly. Your estate planning lawyer will go over the pros/cons and will be able to provide you the best solutions for your specific needs.
If you would like to discuss or review your will for FREE, please contact our law firm by calling (407) 636-4066, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the contact form HERE.