How to Avoid Having the State of Florida Make Decisions about You and Your Property
Did you know that if you die without a will in Florida, that the State of Florida will make one for you? Dying without a will is called "intestate," which is a big, fancy word for saying you didn't make decisions about who should inherit your property and administer your estate, so someone else (the State) decides it for you. Things can become incredibly complicated when someone else makes those decisions. Having been in practice since 2004, I've seen estates where people who say they have no family suddenly have over 100 heirs to their estate!
Now, you may say "Sherri, I'm dead, so why would I care gets my stuff? You don't see people going to heaven with a UHaul behind them!" While this may be true, what happens if you don't die, but are in a terrible car accident and in a coma for months on end? As a guardianship attorney, I've worked on a number of cases where young people suffer severe injuries and cannot make decisions about their money or their finances. As a result, the family ends up fighting over the person and who should make those decisions.
Simple estate planning documents can avoid such results. A will tells the state, among other things, who you want to inherit your property and what you want them to inherit. A power of attorney tells financial institutions (and anyone dealing with your property) who you want to make financial decisions for you in the event you cannot do it. A health care surrogate tells medical providers who you want to make your medical decisions, and other important information such as whether you should be kept on life support.
Most clients do not consult lawyers for reasons such as "I can't afford it," "I don't want to think about it," or "I don't really understand what lawyers are talking about, so I just won't deal with it." However, many problems can be caused by failing to plan. In 13 years, I have never met a client who has said "I want to make my loved ones worry and cause them stress." This is really what happens when you do not think about things ahead of time such as "who do I want to care for me if I can't care for myself?" and "who do I want to receive my things that I've worked so hard for."
So, a simple tip is this: consult competent legal help who can help guide you through these thoughts. At my firm, we pride ourselves on listening to the concerns of our clients so that they and their loved ones can have peace of mind. Sherri M. Stinson, P.A. - Law, Simplified. Call us today at 727-359-0607 to find out how we can help you.