How often do you hear this? “What, you don’t have a Will? The State will take everything from you!”
Well, not true, not true at all. Unless nobody knows you died and nobody comes forward to claim your money!
However, most of us have heirs who stand to receive a share of our assets after we die, even if we don’t have a Will.
What does happen if you die without a Will? This is what is known as intestacy. If you die intestate, then the law of the state you live in when you die governs how your property is distributed. This law is based upon your marital status and whether you have any descendants.
Is your estate planning up to date?
The intestacy law of Florida significantly changed in Florida on October 1, 2011. Under the new law:
- If you die without a will and you are married and have no children, or your children are of this marriage, then your spouse inherits all your property.
- If you are married and have children from another relationship(s), then your spouse receives one-half of your assets.
- If you have children with your current spouse, but your spouse has children from other relationship(s), your spouse receives one-half of your assets.
- If you have no survivng spouse, your children inherit your property.
- If you have no children or grandchildren, then one-half of your assets pass to your mother and one-half to your father, or all to the survivor.
- If neither of your parents are alive, then to your brothers or sisters.
- If you have no living brothers or sisters, then to your nieces or nephews.
- If you have no nieces or nephews, your assets will go to your grandparents; however, if you have no living grandparents, then to your uncles and aunts and then to their children.
- If you have no relatives on either your mother’s or father’s side, then all your assets pass to the descendants of your last deceased spouse.
Now here is the part where the State gets all your money. If there is no one in the line-up discussed above, then your property passes to the State. In Florida, it is deposited with the Chief Financial Officer in the state school funds. If no one comes forward to claim the funds in 10 years, then the State gets to keep the money. To see if there is any money waiting for you, go to: Florida Treasure Hunt at: http://www.fltreasurehunt.org/index.jsp
So, do you need a Will? Maybe not. In fact, you may not need a will as much as your family will need a lawyer to sort things out after your death. At the Law Office of Debra G. Simms, we don’t just sell documents. We sell relationships and the ability to help families when they are dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Is your estate planning up to date?
Contact us to discuss all your estate planning needs.
Call our Orlando office at 407-331-4LAW.
This is good news for Florida snowbirds, who finally got it right and adopted our state as their own, right? Not so fast! Florida has some very picky durable power of attorney interpretation statutes that still can still trip up an out-of-state durable power of attorney.
1. The last will and testament is not self-proved. F.S. §732.503 provides that a last will and testament can be made self-proved when the testator signs an affidavit in front of two witnesses and a Notary Public who also sign the affidavit in front of the testator and Notary. The affidavit can then be used as evidence that the testator and witnesses signed the will with proper legal formalities required by Florida law. Unfortunately many wills I review that were not created under Florida law lack a self-proving affidavit. What does this mean? It means that before the will can be admitted to probate in Florida, at least one of the people who witnessed the will must be located and asked to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that they actually witnessed the testator signing the will. This, in turn, will create extra steps and expenses and can significantly delay the appointment of a personal representative.
2. Disqualified personal representatives are named in the last will and testament. Florida law requires that the person named to serve as the personal representative of a Florida estate must either be a Florida resident or related to the testator by blood or certain marital relationships (see F.S. §733.304). This means that if a friend who isn’t a Florida resident or the attorney from up north who drafted the will is named to serve as the personal representative, then he or she will be disqualified from serving in Florida. And that’s it, there isn’t any argument that can be made or exceptions to the rule, the disqualified person will simply not be allowed to serve.
3. Revocable living trusts ignore Florida homestead laws. Many northerners who buy a second home in Florida title the home in the name of their revocable living trust in order to avoid Florida ancillary probate after they die. But then when the owner decides to make their Florida second home their primary residence and apply for the Florida homestead exemption with regard to real estate taxes, their northern drafted revocable living trust won’t contain any references to Florida homestead laws, and so the Florida property appraiser will have to reject the homestead application.
When I looked out the window to see my clients pull in the parking lot, I saw a new sports car. The couple who entered my office was well dressed and the wife was wearing a sizable diamond ring and a designer hand bag. The intake sheet listed a home address in a lovely gated community.
The veneer of wealth vanished on page 2 of the intake form. Home equity? None. Mortgage payments? Two of them. Credit cards? A dozen maxed-out and using another to pay minimum balances.
You are thinking that this couple came to see me for bankruptcy advice. Nope. Estate Planning! They were expecting a large inheritance from husband’s mother. Due to a terminal illness, the nest egg was about to pass down the line.
According to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, despite the current economic downturn, more than $20 trillion will be transferred to heirs in the next 50 years — the largest transfer of wealth in U.S. history.
The prospect of an inheritance stirs a cauldron of emotions — in this case, my clients felt they deserved more than their siblings because they did so much more to take care of mom in her later years, especially during the last illness. But most parents distribute assets equally between children, not wanting to play favorites, even if one child did more for them.
Family feuds over inheritance are as old as the Bible (Jacob tricked his twin brother Esau out of his birthright and their father’s blessing), and the feuds are even more complicated in blended families. There are ex-wives and ex-husbands, children and stepchildren, parents and stepparents.
My advice: Make a plan. Don’t expect that your children will divide everything up fairly and amicably. Bitter will contestsand trust disputes are costly and can destroy family relationships. I’ve seen it happen even when there isn’t much wealth to go around to begin with.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Plan now. Contact the law office of Debra G. Simms for an estate planning consultation.
Planning for the end of life…..hard to do….
Last week my dear Uncle Bernie died. He was 80 years old. He didn’t plan to die, but I know that he didn’t plan to live forever, either. One thing I know for sure, he PLANNED.
A death in the family is one of the hardest times in a person’s life. We all know that grief causes both emotional and physical pain and can keep us from sleeping, eating, working, and certainly keeps us from thinking clearly for a long time. But during the chaotic and stressful days after the loss of a loved one, a lot of important decisions must be made.
Is your estate planning up to date?
A well thought out and properly drafted Last Will and Testament can alleviate a good deal of stress for the ones you care about the most. And for those of us who aren’t really sure whether our kids or grandkids are ready to handle money, then setting up Trusts can delay when your bounty reaches their hands.
My Uncle Bernie had a lot of plans. He didn’t get to all of them when illness struck, but when he passed, his sons were able to carry out his wishes and instructions because he did plan for death. By making a Will, you know that you put your affairs in order, and your family will know that you cared enough to do so.
Toll free: 1-877-447-4667
Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin re-introduced the Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2013 on Jan. 23, and it apparently is going nowhere. The bill would provide a bankruptcy escape for people unable to pay back college loans issued by private lenders. Those loans account for about $150 billion of the estimated $1 trillion in outstanding college loan debt.
The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
According to Harkin’s office, the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it apparently is all but forgotten underneath more pressing issues
The purpose of the Fairness for Struggling Students Act is to give people a chance to rid themselves of excessive debt incurred while in college. Provisions of the bill force the borrowers to make a legitimate effort to repay the loans before they can be included in bankruptcy procedures.
Current laws put all student loan debt in the same category as child support and criminal fines, meaning debts that can’t be forgiven, even in bankruptcy. Many people, seeing no way to dig themselves out of the substantial holes the college loans created, simply give up.
“Too many Americans are carrying around mortgage-sized student loan debt that forces them to put off major life decisions like buying a home or starting a family,” Durbin said in press release. “We can no longer sit by while this student debt bomb keeps ticking,”
But that’s exactly what is happening. The bill was referred to committee last year and died there without getting a vote.
He brought it back this year, along with a similar bill, Know Before You Owe Act, that would require schools to advise students if they have federal aid available before they take on private student loan debt. Students typically pay considerably higher interest rates for private loans than for federal loans.
Durbin, Franken, Harkin, Reed, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, sent a letter to 13 major banks on March 1, asking them to work at reducing the number of students defaulting on private loans. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 850,000 students have defaulted on private loans, totaling $8.1 billion.
One of the most important aspects of my job as a Financial Representative is helping my clients and their families gain financial security in a tax efficient manner. With the return of the Estate Tax looming in 2011 it is more important than ever for people to address their estate planning needs.
The 2011 Budget calls for a $1 million exemption level and a top rate of 55% on taxable estates. One important tool I recommend to all my clients as a means to counteract this tax in your estate planning is through Permanent Life Insurance.
Permanent Life Insurance can be an important estate planning tool. As long as insurability requirements are met and premiums are made, life insurance creates an estate –possibly a sizeable estate-not limited by the insured’s net worth or the nature or value of other assets. With few exceptions, the life insurance provided liquidity is not subject to income tax for the beneficiary. Moreover, with proper estate planning, the value of the life insurance is not subject to estate, inheritance, or gift taxes. Thus, there are tax incentives for including life insurance in your estate plan.
On December 12th, Orlando’s City Council voted to enact Central Florida’s first domestic partner registry. This is an historic event for Orlando as it the first time that families – gay or straight – will be able to record their relationship in a government database. The registry opens on Jan. 12th. For a $30 fee registered couples will have some of the same rights that married people take for granted: the ability to visit one another in the hospital or jail, to make health care decisions for an incapacitated partner, and to make funeral plans.
The registry applies only to hospitals, funeral homes and other institutions located within the city limits, but couples who live outside the city are free to register. Orange County is considering bringing forward similar legislation that would apply countywide.