If you have been following along with our series of blog posts on basic questions about estate planning, you now have a lot more information about what estate planning is, what it does, and why it’s important. If, after reading our series, you are not already convinced that developing an estate plan is in your best interest, perhaps today’s blog might help persuade you.
In this post we are going to ask some basic questions about why estate planning is so important, and why every capable adult in the state of Florida needs to create one as soon as possible.
What if I don’t have money/a spouse/children/anything to worry about? Do I still need an estate plan?
Absolutely. Most people never get around to creating an estate plan because they mistakenly believe that estate planning is only something that old people need to do. Others believe that they don’t have enough property to worry about inheritances, while still others believe that they don’t need to take any additional steps because they are single, don’t have children, or because of any number of other reasons.
When you take a step back and look at estate planning from a bigger picture perspective, what you see is a process that allows you to answer certain types of legal questions. If you fail to answer these questions, someone will have to answer them for you.
In other words, without an estate plan, you leave it up to a court, your parents, other family members, or even the pre-existing laws that the state of Florida has already adopted to make some of the most important decisions of your life.
Why do I need a plan, or need to make a formal plan? Can’t I simply tell others what I want?
While you are never under any legal obligation to create an estate plan, simply telling other people your wishes about estate planning is not a suitable substitute for a legally valid plan. A properly drafted estate plan will contain numerous different pieces, each of which has to comply with some very specific laws.
For example, if you want to make inheritance choices you have to state your preferences in one of several key ways. Drafting a last will and testament, for example, is one of the more popular ways of making these types of choices.
On the other hand, should you make inheritance choices but not choose to state them in a legally recognized manner, your choices will effectively be worthless. When it comes time to distribute your estate, a Florida court will have to determine if the choices you made were done so in a legally enforceable way. If you have a valid will, a court will enforce your decisions and honor your choices. On the other hand, should you simply state your wishes, write them down, or make them in a way that the laws of the state of Florida do not recognize, a court will ignore what you said and apply the pre-existing inheritance laws that are already in place.