The probate process is necessary to wind up the affairs the decedent leaves behind. It is necessary whether or not a decedent drafted a will. If someone dies without a will, he or she dies intestate. This means that Florida statutes determine the distribution of assets. On the other hand, a will determines how assets will be allocated to beneficiaries based on the wishes of the decedent. A Circuit Court Judge supervises the probate proceedings. The Last Will and Testament is validated and a personal representative is appointed to administer the estate. Creditors, including the IRS, must be properly paid before any beneficiary gets his or her share. Probate can easily cost between 3% and 7% of the total estate value. A will can also be contested which can delay the distribution for years adding to the expenses of the estate in the form of attorney fees and court costs.
There are some web programs that allow you to make “quick and easy” plans. However, “do-it yourself” wills can cause more harm than good. When it comes to estate planning, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Planning ahead does not mean go to the office supply store and get a “fill-in the blank” will or download it from an unknown source. For a will to be valid, it must adhere to the Florida laws and requirements. There are very specific formalities for properly executing this legal document, such as, who can or should be a witness and, where and when you and your witnesses may sign. Improper execution can also cause a will to be contested. Also, certain family members may have rights given by statute. Minimize the possibility of your will being contested or invalidated by seeking a South Florida Estate Planning attorney. In addition, you may have certain desires that cannot be achieved with a “cookie cutter” document.
Even if you already have an estate plan, making the time to see your probate attorney to review documents is a high priority. Estate planning is not a one time process that is done once and never revisited. It is an ongoing activity because life can be capricious and people change. Don’t be that person who leaves loved ones with the extra burden of straightening your financial affairs. Unforeseen snares lie in wait to snag even the most carefully constructed estate plans. Many circumstantial changes may arise that affect major impact upon your life- without a moment’s notice. Is it not better to take some time to consult your attorney and be safe than sorry? A South Florida estate planning attorney has the requisite training and skill to shield clients against such uncertainties in life and construct a comprehensive plan on your behalf and for the protection of those you love most. Don’t delay and let another minute pass you by. Ward off the potential for disaster by calling your attorney today.