Exploding Myths About Florida Estate Planning
Estate planning can be a complex and intimidating endeavor for anyone, regardless of how much wealth they have (or do not have). Too many people try to do it themselves, instead of relying on the advice of a legal professional. Because there is so much information out there, though, the average person can be misinformed with relative ease. If you have questions about any area of estate planning, contacting an attorney should be your first step, so that you can be sure you have correct information. Some of the most common Florida estate planning myths include:
Estate planning does not have to be a priority, since it only deals with what will happen after I’m gone.
In Florida, estate planning does not only cover wills and trusts, but also documents that will be used while you are still alive, such as a living will or a Designation of a Health Care Surrogate (DHCS). Estate planning’s primary purpose is to ensure your wishes will be carried out if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to articulate them yourself – and while this includes the time after you have passed away, it may also include time after you become mentally incapacitated (after, for example, a stroke). Estate planning guarantees you have someone to speak for you.
Only the rich need to plan their estate.
This is not accurate because there are aspects of estate planning that have nothing to do with assets or funds. It is true that wealthy people will often need more estate planning tools, but even those with few assets should try to ensure their wishes are laid out in writing, especially for issues like the guardianship of minor children. If you have no estate plan – no will, no trust or anything of the kind – your estate will then pass intestate, which can cause significant time and trouble for your beneficiaries.
A Will is all I need in terms of estate planning, and I can do that myself.
Many people try to execute their own Wills, and some succeed, but the majority of them fail. There are specific requirements for a Will to be considered valid in Florida, and too often they are simply not met. A valid Will in Florida must be in writing; it must also be signed by the testator and two witnesses (in the presence of each other). If any of these requirements are not met, the Will is invalid and your estate will have to go through the intestate process.
Making a Will will keep me out of probate.
In Florida, there are certain assets that cannot be dealt with in a Will, with the most common examples being accounts with a pay-on-death or transfer-on-death (POD or TOD) designation, as well as life insurance policies and retirement accounts. A Will can handle the majority of one’s assets, but even with a Will, almost every estate has to go through some modified form of probate, even if it is perfunctory at best.
Call A Naples Estate Planning Attorney Today
No one really wants to deal with estate planning, especially if they are younger, but it is a good thing for everyone to have their affairs in order. If you have questions or concerns regarding your own estate, calling a Naples estate planning attorney from Nici Law Firm may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at (239) 449-6150, to schedule a consultation.