Many Floridians think that a will is enough to satisfy their estate planning needs. This is because wills and the issues that sometimes accompany them are easy to portray in the media, including film and television. Yet, the truth of the matter is that there are many other aspects of estate planning that can ensure that an estate plan is holistic in nature. Everyone who creates a will needs to ensure that it is executed in a clear and legally valid manner. Otherwise an entire estate plan, regardless of how thorough it is, can be placed in jeopardy.
Planning for one's own passing can be an uncomfortable process. However, this is at the heart of estate planning. The process involves figuring out how to distribute an estate's assets and debts upon an individual's death. On its face, this may seem relatively easy. However, the process can actually be quite complicated. One reason for this difficulty is that many assets are not liquid like cash, bonds and stocks. This means that these assets may be more challenging to equally divide amongst an individual's heirs.This is particularly true when it comes to dealing with what are often referred to as "hard assets." These assets are individual pieces of property that cannot be easily divided. Common examples include family heirlooms such as jewelry and other personal items. Oftentimes, many heirs vie for these valuable pieces of property. So, the difficulty then becomes how to pass them down.The first step in passing down a hard asset is to get it appraised. An appraisal can give the owner an accurate value of the item so that that value can be taken into consideration when devising an estate plan. The appraisal should be conducted by somebody who is knowledgeable and experienced.
Though a person may spend a lot of time in preparing a well thought out Last Will and Testament, things do not always go as planned. If that person does not update their will as ownership of assets change over the years, then those which are deemed to be the inheritance of another person may not always be available. In addition, if a person's financial situation changes, then upon their passing the estate may not hold enough funds to distribute money to a beneficiary. There are rules in place for these situations which determine whether a beneficiary is still entitled to anything.
When an individual passes away without a valid last will and testament, they are said to be "intestate." This means that property will be divided based on the intestacy laws of the state in which they are located. For out of state property, the laws of the state in which the property is located will take precedence.
When a family member or friend asks someone if he or she would be willing to act as the executor of a will, most people will say yes, without hesitation. However, few are truly aware of the responsibilities that role entails. When agreeing to act as an executor, you are agreeing to do much more than simply clean out a house or disburse money.