LEGISLATURE-DRAFTED WIILL OF JOHN DOE
I, JOHN DOE, am normally of sound mind but I didn’t get around to writing a will before I died. I really do care about my family and friends, but by not making a will I have decided to let the laws of Florida control how my estate should be administered and divided.
ITEM ONE. I 1eave one-half of my estate to my spouse. The other half of my estate shall be divided among my children, with grandchildren taking the share of any of my children who have died before I do. I know I promised to leave special things to some of you, but since I did not write them down in a will my promises cannot be kept. I always meant to get to it.
ITEM TWO. I have not done any tax planning. Therefore, want my estate to pay whatever estate and income taxes are due, even though I may have done some things in my Will to reduce or eliminate those taxes.
ITEM THREE. I do not care who is appointed Personal Representative of my estate. That is, I don’t care who goes through my things after my death, makes an inventory of them and divides them up. Whoever the court appoints is okay with me.
ITEM FOUR. I would have liked to have left something to my church or favorite charity because I really never had enough to give what I wanted during my lifetime.
However, I didn’t leave a will so no one will ever know how deeply I felt about that charity.
ITEM FIVE. I require whoever is appointed Personal Representative of my estate to put up a bond in an amount determined by the Judge of the circuit court. I require bond even though the Personal Representative is my spouse or a child I have always trusted completely.
ITEM SIX. I am willing to leave it up to the court to decide who should be the Guardian of my minor children.
ITEM SEVEN. I want any share of my estate passing to minor children to be held by the Guardian subject to court supervision. Furthermore, regardless of the maturity of that child or grandchild, I direct the Guardian to turn all of the property over to that child when he or she reaches 18. I realize I could have set it up in my will to delay turning over control of the property beyond age 18. However, I forgot to make a Will.
Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on.
While each person’s situation varies, here are the top ten reasons to have a will:
1) If you want to decide how your estate will be distributed, you need a will. A will lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. Without a will, your estate passes under the laws of intestacy, not according to your desires; there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out. Having a will helps minimize any family fights about your estate that may arise, and also determines the “who, what, and when” of your estate.
2) If you want to decide who will take care of your minor children, you need a will. A will allows you to make the decision about who should take care of your minor children. Absent a will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian. Having a will allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not someone you do not want to raise your children.
3) If you want to avoid a lengthy probate process, you need a will. Contrary to common belief, all estates must go through the probate process, with or without a will. Having a will, however, speeds up the probate process and informs the court how you’d like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose of “administering your estate”, and when you die without a will, the court will decide how to divide estate without your input, which can also cause long, unnecessary delays.
4) If you want to minimize estate taxes, you may need a will. If you have a taxable estate, a will can help minimize your estate tax exposure. The value of what you give away to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
5) If you want to decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate, you need a will. The Personal Representative makes sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments. Because the Personal Representative plays the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized (which may or may not always be a family member).
6) If you want to disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit, you need a will. Most people do not realize they can disinherit individuals out of their will. Yes, you may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a will. Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, absent a will your estate may end up on the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend.
7) If you want to make gifts and donations, you need a will. The ability to make gifts is a good reason to have a will because it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests. In addition, gifts up to $14,000 are excluded from estate tax, so you’re also increasing the value of your estate for your heirs and beneficiaries to enjoy.
8) If you want to avoid legal challenges to your estate, you need a will. If you die without a will, part or all of your estate may pass to someone you did not intend. For example, one case involved the estate of a deceased son who was awarded over $1 million from a wrongful death lawsuit. When the son died, the son’s father – who had not been a part of his son’s life for over 32 years – stood to inherit the entire estate, leaving close relatives and siblings out of the picture!
9) You need a will because you can change your mind when circumstances change. A good reason for having a will is that you can change it at any time while you’re still alive. Life changes, such as births, deaths, and divorce, can create situations where changing your will are necessary.
10) You need a will because tomorrow is not promised. Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept death as part of life are common reasons for not having a will. Sometimes the realization that wills are necessary comes too late – such as when an unexpected death or disability occurs. Avoid the added stress on your family during an already emotional time; call us today to help you create an estate plan that meets your needs and protects your family.