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What will happen if I die without an estate plan?

The New Year is rapidly approaching, which means now is the time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolution.  Most of consider setting our goals as getting in shape or making better financial decisions.  Estate planning may not be something that many consider, but you should.  Fewer than half of all Americans have even a basic will in place.  Without an estate plan, your assets could be heavily taxed, go to unwanted individuals, and potentially even become the property of the state.  Use this New Year as a time to start thinking about estate planning and schedule a consultation with a Florida estate planning attorney near you.  

Identify Your Why 

To ensure that your New Year’s resolution of creating an estate plan becomes a reality, you will need to make a solid plan.  Understanding just why an estate plan is so important will motivate you to move your plan to a reality. As such, you should educate yourself as to basic Florida law concerning probate.
In Florida, if you die without a valid will, your assets will pass through the laws of intestacy.  Florida law will dictate who receives your assets depending on whether you are married, have children, and what other relatives survive you.  You will not have control over who receives what.  Additionally, depending on the value of your estate, your assets may be subjected to state and federal taxes.  The probate process will further tie up your assets for some time, which could prove difficult for your heirs.

Make a Plan 

Once you have established the motivating factor behind your goal of making an estate plan, you will need to develop a goal with steps towards achieving it.  Talk to an estate planning lawyer and decide what estate planning documents you will need to create your comprehensive estate plan.  Potential estate planning tools include a will, trust, powers of attorney, and more.  Your precise estate plan will depend on your assets, heirs, and other life factors.  With your lawyer’s help, you can ring in the New Year with a plan in place that will protect you and your loved ones in the event you become incapacitated or die.