By: Phil Rarick, Estate Planning Attorney
Many persons are tempted to have a “Simple Will” in which they want everything they own at death to go outright first to their spouse, and if the spouse does not survive then to their children in equal shares. Rather than take the time to consult with a Weston estate planning attorney, many persons are tempted to write the Will themselves, using will forms they see advertised on TV. Read more: 5 Common Mistakes With Florida Do-It-Yourself Wills
In our practice we have seen many so-called “Simple Wills”. Most have big problems that end up costing the family much more fees and causing more stress than if the person had the Will drafted by an experienced Weston estate planning attorney. Here are just four big problems, but there are many more:
- The Will must go through the Florida probate process. Probate is like a lawsuit: You must file a petition with the court and first prove that the will is in fact the last, valid will of the decedent. Probate in Florida is slow, because it is a bureaucratic process requiring a Florida probate attorney: you cannot act as your own attorney unless the estate is under $6,000. Read more: What’s Bad About Probate
- The Minor Child Problem. It is always a mistake to give a minor an outright distribution of anything because the court will need to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem – which means your estate will now have to pay for two attorneys. Your child will then need to have a guardianship until the child is 18 years of age. More important, any child is likely to blow the money if they receive an outright distribution at age 18: rather than use the money for a college education they will be tempted to buy a fast car or make some other foolish decision. Read More: Big Mistake Naming a Minor the Beneficiary – of Anything!
- The Adult Child Who Is A Poor Money Manager. Most persons want their hard earned moneys to go to their children – not to their children’s credit card holder to pay off a credit card debt. There are legal solutions to help ensure that the money is not wasted in this fashion. See below.
- The Adult Child Who Is In a Shaky Marriage. Just as problematic is the adult child who is in a marriage that is contentious and possibly to end in divorce. Few persons want their daughter-in-law or son-in-law to be a primary beneficiary of their will. Again, with proper planning, there are ways to avoid this, but a Simple Will is not the answer.
The Best Solution
Virtually all people want to give what they have, the way they want with the least possible cost. To achieve these goals, most people need a revocable living trust, not a Simple Will. A well drafted and properly funded living trust can avoid the four problems discussed above. The living trust is simply detailed, legally binding instructions to make sure your savings and nest egg go to your loved ones – and no one else – without going through a probate process. The living trust is also a way to ensure that your hard earned property goes to your children – and they do not blow it or allow it to be claimed by a credit card company or a spouse.
To speak with an experienced Weston estate planning attorney call Phil Rarick at (305) 556-5209.