Three Ways to Protect Yourself from an Inheritance Dispute in Florida
You’ve worked hard your entire life. You deserve to have your estate distributed the way you see fit after your death. By spending some time and energy clarifying your intentions for your estate after your death, you will be on your way to avoiding common Florida inheritance disputes.
Create Your Estate Plan
Did you know that most Americans do not have Wills in place? A recent Gallup poll stated that only 44% of Americans reported having a Will. If you die in Florida with no Will, you die “intestate,” meaning that the state potentially could take your assets unless you have heirs. However, before doing so, the law requires that your assets be distributed to your living heirs according to Florida statutory law.
In order to ensure that you, and not the State of Florida, decide who will receive the assets of your estate, you need to have a Will or Trust in place. After writing your Will, you may want to call a family meeting and explain to your family the general terms of your Will without going into the financial details.
Name an Executor of Your Estate
Within your Will, you can select a person to be your executor. In Florida, the executor is called your Personal Representative. The Personal Representative will ensure that all debts and creditors are paid out of your estate assets first. The Personal Representative then will make sure that your remaining property is distributed according to your directions in your Will.
The Personal Representative does not have to be experienced in legal, financial or tax matters, though those skills are helpful. However, the Personal Representative should be a person that you trust. Choose a Personal Representative who will faithfully, honestly and diligently fulfill his or her duties to ensure that the provisions in your Will are fulfilled. Personal Representatives are entitled to a reasonable fee for fulfilling their duties.
Make Your Will as Specific as Possible
If you’ve given adult children money during your lifetime, you may wish to specify whether you gave it to them as a gift or as a loan that needs to be repaid to the estate. If you plan on forgiving the loan, how will that affect the division of your estate with other beneficiaries? You may want to consider the gifts you’ve given your adult children or grandchildren while alive to determine if they might affect the division of the estate.
Do you have jewelry, artwork or any other sentimental items? If so, you should state who receives each sentimental item in your Will to avoid family fights after your death. If your Will provides for a separate writing, then you just can make a list of the items and it will be considered as part of your Will. Emotions run high after someone’s death and a specific Will goes a long way to alleviating challenges to your Will.
Let Us Help You Ensure That Your Wishes Come to Pass
Ensuring that the directives in your will come to pass could be as easy as setting up a meeting with one of our experienced St. Petersburg estate planning attorneys. Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III is the head of our estate and trust litigation team. He has spent the last 38 years litigating significant wills trust cases throughout Florida. Contact the legal team at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP today for help.