Departments — 18 April 2014
Where  there’s a will  . . . . or not

 

A will is a very good idea – so why do so few Baby Boomers have one?

Most legal experts agree everyone should have a will – indeed, an entire estate plan. Yet half of respondents with children responding to a 2012 survey said they lacked a will; as well as 41 percent of Baby Boomers in their 50s and 60s.

“If there is no will, your assets, with some exceptions, will pass under the Florida intestacy statutes and may not go to the people you want to have your estate,” says Joseph T. Ducanis Jr., an attorney with GrayRobinson in Fort Lauderdale.

With a will, you can:

  • Designate a guardian for your minor children. 
  • Create a trust – and name a trustee to manage it – to hold your assets until your children reach an age you choose. 
  • Designate a personal representative to administer your estate and distribute your assets.Without a will, state law will determine who will play this role.
  • Ensure your assets are distributed to the people you want. Without a will, in most cases, state law will determine that. 
  • Designate who will receive and care for your pets.
  • Donate money to charities.
  • Help prevent family squabbles over assets.
  • Avoid or reduce estate and inheritance taxes. 

Larry Ploucha, an attorney with Fowler White Boggs in Fort Lauderdale, advises clients to prepare a comprehensive estate plan, rather than just a will.

“Everyone with assets and family needs an estate plan,” he says.

A typical estate plan includes a will, trusts, a living will and a durable power of attorney, Ploucha says. He suggests reviewing that plan every five years or whenever there is a major life event such as a marriage, divorce, death or birth.

Robyn A. Friedman

 

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