Having A Will Vs. Not Having A Will: What Happens When You Die?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2023 in Legal News |

We get it—life gets busy. Though estate planning is a necessity for adults, some view it as expensive and time-consuming. We urge you to look past any preconceived, negative notions of estate planning and focus on your loved ones, as a person who has a will (and an estate plan) is far better-suited to take care of them than one who does not.

In this article, we will focus on the document that is the best-known of all estate planning arrangements: the last will and testament. We will cover what it is and entails, as well as what happens if you die without one.

What Is A Last Will And Testament?

Throughout almost the entire world, distributing the estate of a dead person after he or she dies has been a solemn social custom. The written will is said to date back to the times of Solon, an Athenian statesman who lived centuries ago. Originally, the last will and testament was a device solely for men who died without leaving an heir.

Now, a will is far more widely-applicable, thanks in part to Old English Law straightening out and expanding upon many of the classic rules behind estate disposition. A last will and testament is a legally-binding document that expresses how a person wants his or her assets (their “estate”) distributed after they die.

Assets can include anything from bank accounts to property, and heirs are the intended beneficiaries of the estate of a deceased person. This area of the law is vast and detailed, and different types of wills and applicable rules abound.

That said, in Florida, a will must abide by these rules:

· A will must be signed by a testator (the person making the will), and he or she must be mentally-competent and over the age of eighteen.

· The will must be typed or handwritten; you cannot have an oral will in Florida.

· The testator’s signature must be at the very end of the will.

· There must be two competent persons there to witness the will.

· The will has to be signed by everyone in the same room, and these individuals must sign the will at the same time.

In Florida, the law is followed strictly when it comes to wills. That is why it is important to talk to an attorney to have a valid will executed properly. Missing any one of the steps above can lead to a will being rendered invalid.

What Happens If You Die Intestate?

When we say “intestate,” we refer to dying without a last will and testament or other document to govern the distribution of your property. In Florida, if you die unmarried, the Florida Intestacy Statutes give all of your property to your kids. If there are no children, your estate goes to your parents.

There are many different disadvantages of dying intestate. Namely, you will have to go through probate court, a lengthy, time-consuming, privacy-invading court process. Here are other “cons” of dying intestate (there are no “pros”):

· You don’t get to leave the assets you want to the people you want to inherit them. Dying intestate takes away your choice in that matter. As a result, descendants may be unfairly disadvantaged or advantaged.

· You can’t nominate your own guardian for your children or an executor for your will.

· The estate’s distribution may be delayed if there are conflicts between beneficiaries. This isn’t unheard of in intestacy cases, as there is no will to clearly lay out the deceased’s wishes.

· You don’t get to make use of legal estate tax minimization.

Dying intestate takes away your freedom of choice—your estate is left in the hands of the government, and the courts may make decisions about your assets, kids, and pets that, were you able to choose, you would not have made.

Hopefully, the article has reinforced the need to have an estate plan, lest you die intestate. Contact a WFP estate planning attorney today to learn more about setting up a will and, if applicable, other legal arrangements.

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Estate Planning: It’s Not Just For The Wealthy

Posted by on Feb 19, 2023 in Legal News |

One of the most common misconceptions we hear frequently about estate planning is that it is only useful for millionaires and rich celebrities. Just the word “estate” might conjure up visions of mansions, private jets, and limousines. Happily, this misconception is not true, and estate planning is for anyone who has assets (so, pretty much every adult in America).

In this article, we will talk about who should have an estate plan, the benefits of estate planning, and how you go about setting up an individualized estate plan.

Who Is Estate Planning For?

The answer to this is simple: every adult should have an estate plan. According to CNBC, two-thirds of Americans do not have an estate plan, with 40% saying that they simply haven’t gotten around to creating one. 33% said they do not have an estate plan because they don’t feel as though they have enough assets, and the remainder said that they’ve eschewed estate planning because it is too costly.

It will be far more costly to not have an estate plan after you die, as dying intestate leaves your assets in the hands of the court. Probate is a long, expensive process that pays off your creditors first and gives your family what’s left, if anything. More than likely, this is not the way you want to see your estate distributed.

If you’re young and don’t have many assets, you’ll probably only need a few simple items, such as a will, beneficiary designation, and both financial and medical powers of attorney. If you have kids, you’ll have to name a guardian in your estate plan. Those who are older with more assets, particularly those who have health issues, may need a more expansive estate plan. Estate plans are not one-size-fits-all; each estate plan is tailored to its creator’s personal and financial lifestyle and situation.

The Benefits of Estate Planning

There are plenty of benefits of estate planning that will encourage you to “get around” to making one. These include:

· Estate planning minimizes the delays, expenses, and privacy invasions that so often accompany probate court.

· Your assets go to the right beneficiaries when you have a properly-executed estate plan.

· Estate planning allows you to plan for your end-of-life care, which is especially beneficial for those who want DNR agreements and other special, personal arrangements.

· You can arrange trusts and plan for the future of your accounts and investments, ensuring your financial legacy goes on.

· You can designate a trusted executor for your last will and testament.

· Guardianship for minor children can be arranged through an estate plan, ensuring that your kids have a stable future even if the worst comes to pass.

· If you own a business, estate planning will ensure its future after you’re gone (including if you want to sell it posthumously).

· Lastly, estate planning can help you legally minimize estate taxes after you die.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to have an estate plan. In the next section, we’ll talk about how you can set one up.

How To Set Up An Estate Plan

Luckily, this part is pretty simple. All you need to do is pick up the phone and call an estate planning attorney. He or she will help you determine what documents you need in your estate plan, setting up you and your loved ones for a smooth transition, should something happen to you.

You might be tempted to create your own will by using a “DIY legal service.” While this might seem convenient (and cheaper), it can cause a lot of issues, as the law is very technical and finicky. It’s easy to miss an important element or requirement when creating an estate plan, and this omission can to a lot of trouble in court.

No matter who you are, you need a plan for what happens after you die. Dying intestate only lengthens probate, putting your loved ones through an expensive, time-consuming court process that will, most likely, benefit them very little. Contact a WFP attorney today to learn more about how to create an estate plan.

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Protect Your Business Assets In 2023

Posted by on Feb 8, 2023 in Legal News |

You’ve worked hard for your business, and you don’t want to settle for less. Estate planning is a field of law that can greatly benefit business owners through key documents, legal strategies, legal tax minimization, and more. In this guide, we will discuss the basics of business estate planning. If this article seems like it is applicable to you, contact an estate planning attorney to learn more about how you can prepare your business for a future without you.

Estate Planning For Businesses

If you die and do not have a business succession plan in place, it is your business, family, and friends who will be left without direction. The execution of a deceased person’s last will and testament after their death can be tricky, but it is made far easier with a properly-executed, clear estate plan.

Estate Planning Strategies For Small Businesses

There are millions of small businesses in America, and they all should have an estate plan in place. When it comes to strategies for small business estate planning, here are a few you should note:

· Taxation Minimization

· Insurance

· Buy-Sell Agreements

· Family-Run Business Strategies

· Sole Proprietorship Strategies

We will discuss each of these in turn below.

Taxation Minimization

One of the best reasons to have a business estate plan is to minimize how much your estate will owe the IRS after you die. The IRS can tax anywhere from 35% to 50% of your business value after you pass, and that hefty sum is due nine months after the date of your death.

This often means that small businesses end up having to sell to pay off this burden. But, if you know your way through the IRS laws, you can minimize your business’ tax burden, 100% legally. An estate planning attorney who is trained in tax law can help you take advantage of IRS code sections and exemptions. This sector of estate planning will pay off handily in the future for your loved ones and employees.


Having an insurance policy is a part of estate planning, as it can provide necessary capital to your beneficiaries (who, in some cases, may be your business partners) after you die. According to experts, there are three insurance coverage policies you should have, if you have a small business. These include:

· Worker’s Compensation Insurance. In certain circumstances, this insurance provides employees with financial, medical, and wage benefits if they are injured on the job.

· General Liability Insurance. This policy provides protection for your business in the event of claims against it for bodily injury and other liabilities.

· Professional Liability Insurance. Common among lawyers, doctors, and others in professional capacities, this business insurance covers professionals against customers’ or clients’ claims of negligence, personal injury, copyright infringement, and more.

Buy-Sell Agreements

This type of contract establishes a plan for your business in the event an owner dies or becomes too sick to work. The buy-sell agreement establishes a price for your company and your shares of it, and it allows you to document what you want to happen to the business after you die or cannot work anymore. Establishing the business’ price through a buy-sell agreement goes a long way towards convincing family members that they are getting the fair end of the deal, should the company sell or your business partners buy out your stake.

Family-Run Business Strategies

If you own a family-run business, have you thought about how you want to divide your company’s assets? Many estate plans distribute assets to heirs based on contribution levels, experience, and other factors. An estate planning attorney will help you consider how to best strategize your business’ future, taking into account your family and personal situation.

Sole Proprietorship Strategies

Sole proprietors know that they are their business—their personal and company assets are not separated. More than any other type of business owner, sole proprietors need a clear estate plan for what will happen to their company after they die.

If you have a small business with no estate plan, it is time to speak to an attorney to ensure that, if you die or something happens to you, all that you’ve worked hard for is protected. Contact a WFP attorney today.

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