We generally think of wills as documents that divide inheritances up for children and other family members, but what if you do not want to give your money to your family? What if you decide to bequeath your assets to a charitable cause? A few estate administration tips can help facilitate this process for Florida residents.

First, people who want to give their life earnings to charity need to ensure that they have a will on file with their attorney. Without this document, Florida law requires that estate possessions be given to the nearest living relative — even if that person was not acquainted with the deceased. If you have specific causes that are close to your heart, it is best to specify that you want to leave your money to those organizations. Do not assume that your family members will follow your wishes if you do not have a will.

Many people who decide to give their life’s savings to charity are humble people who do not want to have public recognition. One Pompano Beach woman, who had worked as a machinist during World War II, had saved up more than $1 million, which she left to support the Community Foundation of Broward. The woman wanted the money to support her passions, including the arts and animals.

Another local couple says they plan to leave their estate to their nonprofit organization that helps abused and neglected horses. The facility has nursed more than 100 horses back to health after they lived tragic and difficult lives. The facility has now become an attraction, with more than 250,000 visitors passing through since its opening.

The couple’s son is aware that he will not see much money from his parent’s large estate, but he is happy that they are leaving their funds to help the animals. He says that passing down family values is a far more valuable practice than simply handing money out to relatives.

Luis E. Barreto