Florida Estate Planning: 5 Reasons You Need More Than a Basic Will

When people think about end of life planning, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the last will and testament. This is the most common legal document for deciding what will happen to your belongings after you pass. For many people, a will is all they will need in terms of estate planning. It is important, however, to know when you are in a position where you’ll need to use other estate planning vehicles such as trusts, power of attorney, and others. Consider the following five reasons why you may need more than just a basic will:

Specific Funeral Arrangements

Many people today have specific instructions they want followed regarding their funeral. A will, however, is not able to facilitate this type of thing because it usually isn’t read until after the funeral has been completed. If, for example, you want to make sure you are buried in a specific cemetery or you prefer burial over cremation, these are things that need to be planned ahead of time and legally documented, as well as shared with your loved ones, rather than simply written in a will.

Leaving Some Types of Property

While you can leave some property such as a home, vehicle, or some types of cash to your loved ones in a will, there are other types that can’t be taken care of with a simple will. If you hold a piece of property in joint tenancy, for example, you’ll need another document. If you want to put property into a trust to help minimize the tax burden on your loved ones, a will won’t cut it.

Avoiding Probate

If you only have a simple will your estate will typically have to go through probate. If your estate is small this may not be a concern, but for those with mid to large sized estates this can cost your loved ones a significant amount of money and may take years to settle. If you use the right estate planning vehicles you can dramatically reduce what needs to go through probate.

Special Needs Care

If you have an adult child or some other loved one who needs special care, you will want to make sure you set up a guardianship on their behalf. This will allow you to identify who will provide them with care as well as secure your finances in a way that will provide the greatest benefit to the beneficiary.

Making Conditional Gifts

If you want to leave money to a loved one, but you want to limit what it can be used for, a will is not typically going to suffice. For example, if you want to leave $50,000 to a cousin but you want it to be earmarked for college education, you will need more than just a will.

While wills are an excellent tool, they aren’t always enough. For many people, a good will is just a place to start their estate planning. If you’d like to learn more about wills and other estate planning vehicles, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer a free initial consultation with one of our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys.

Luis E. Barreto