A Last Will and Testament (a “Will”) is a legal document that specifies how your assets will be distributed after you die. It is important to have a Will because it ensures that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. If you do not have a Will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of your state, which may not be what you want.
A Will is also an important tool in administering probate. Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after they pass away. If you have a Will, the probate process will be guided according to your intent. This is because the probate court will be able to follow your wishes as set forth in your Will.
One important item to keep in mind is that most counties in Florida require the use of the original Will document. While a copy may be used, it slows the administration down quite a bit and can increase the costs involved in administering the estate.
In addition to a Will, it is also important to set up beneficiary designations for certain assets. Beneficiary designations are instructions that you give to a financial institution or other entity about who should receive your assets if you pass away. Beneficiary designations are important because they can help to avoid the probate process, and in avoiding probate, they may avoid being accessible by potential creditors.
There are two main types of beneficiary designations: Pay on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD). A POD designation allows you to name a beneficiary who will receive your assets immediately upon your death. A TOD designation is similar to a POD designation, but it allows you to name a beneficiary who will receive your assets such as IRAs, 401Ks, and other non-cash retirement accounts.
Beneficiary designations are important because they can help to ensure that your assets are distributed quickly and efficiently after you pass away. Here are some of the benefits of having a will and beneficiary designations:
- Your wishes will be carried out after you pass away.
- The distribution of assets process will be simpler and less expensive.
- Your loved ones will be spared the stress and hassle of the probate process.
If you do not have a Will or beneficiary designations, we encourage you to create them as soon as possible. These documents are an important part of estate planning and can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about Wills and beneficiary designations:
- A Will and beneficiary designations are not the same thing. A Will is a legal document that specifies how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. A beneficiary designation is an instruction that you give to a financial institution or other entity about who should receive your assets if you pass away.
- You can have both a Will and beneficiary designations. In fact, it is a good idea to have both. This will help to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event that you pass away without a Will.
- You can change your Will and beneficiary designations at any time. However, it is important to keep them up-to-date. If you get married, divorced, or have children, you will need to update your Will and beneficiary designations to reflect your new circumstances.
If you have any questions about Wills or beneficiary designations, you should consult with an attorney.
Contact Slonim Law today to review your Estate Plan. Call (321) 757-5701 or visit our website www.slonimlaw.com to book an appointment easily online.