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How to avoid disputes over assets after you die

Imagine if a loved one passes away without a will. In this instance, Florida law will determine how the estate will be divided amongst his or her heirs. When a person passes with a will, the terms and conditions of the document will control.

However, what happens when a loved passes with two wills? The confusion and animosity could be unbearable. More importantly, the disputes over potential gifts and assets transferred could be enough to rival a reality show.

 Such was the case with a wealthy widow who happened to have two wills.

One will left a considerable amount of her $300 million fortune to distant relatives, many of whom she did not know or have close relationships with. Another will called for part of her estate to left to her goddaughter, and established a charitable foundation with the rest.

The two wills were reportedly signed a month apart and both appear to be authentic. Because of the size of the estate, there are far reaching implications for charitable organizations, relatives and the federal government (because of taxable income from the estate).

While this scenario is ripe for a made-for-TV movie, situations like these can ensnare people with lesser means. The pieces at issue could be a classic car, an apartment or even heirlooms. One way to avoid these disputes is to have a will drafted by an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.  

A lawyer will understand the importance of including language that would properly communicate the changes from one will to the next. If you have questions about will drafting, contact a lawyer.

Source: NY Times.com, How to avoid an estate battle after you die, June 15, 2013

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