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The consequences of not having an estate plan

We understand: it is not pleasant to plan for your demise. Being afraid of death is very common. But the end comes for all of us sooner or later, which is why it is necessary to plan for the future.

This includes setting up an estate plan, so that your loved ones receive your assets in the way that you wish. Unfortunately, far too many people have yet to execute any sort of plan. One study suggested that most Americans do not even have a basic will.

When a person dies without an estate plan, he or she is said to have died “intestate.” Florida law steps in as a substitute, to make sure the decedent’s assets and distributed and debts are handled. But there is no guarantee that state intestacy laws will disburse your belongings in the way you wanted to.

For instance, say you have two children. One has a disability, and will be unable to work as an adult. You may wish to leave more of your estate to that child than his or her sibling. But that likely will not happen unless you make your intentions clear in a properly executed will.

Even if you do not have any particular desires for how your estate plan will go, or if you are fine with how intestacy laws will do it, dying intestate can create major problems. Dying intestate means that most of your estate must pass through probate. The more of your estate that has to go through probate, the longer the process takes.

This delays the distribution to family members, and could shrink the amount they receive. Probate can be expensive, and the estate typically pays the costs.

All of this can be avoided with a little uncomfortable conversation with an experienced estate planning attorney.

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