It’s said only death and taxes are certain. Most of us give taxes the necessary attention (especially this time of year). But when it comes to that other certainty, we tend to stick our heads in the sand. A March 2011 Harris poll shows that 57% of Americans over the age of 18 don’t have a will! But it’s not just the youngsters who are in denial. Among Baby Boomers ages 45 – 64, 44% don’t have a will. And 22% of Americans over the age of 65 do not have one!
This is a phenomenon we see this all the time in our Florida elder law-estate planning practice. People in their seventies, sometimes their eighties, show up in our office after years of procrastination. They have decided to get moving, sometimes propelled by their adult children’s nagging to put a plan in place. But as the poll shows, there are many more who will never set foot in a lawyer’s office to put a plan in place and will pass away without leaving a plan.
There’s no doubt that pondering one’s mortality is not on anyone’s list of favorite things to do. But once you make the move and start your estate planning the process isn’t as uncomfortable or as burdensome, and there’s an ultimate reward – peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
What happens if you die without an estate plan?
Now, what happens if you don’t have a properly drafted, valid Florida will or other estate planning device in place – i.e., die intestate? When you pass away, any asset that you own that does not have a beneficiary designation is going to be disposed of by, you guessed it, the State of Florida. Florida Statute 732.101 states “Any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed in the following sections of this code.” I won’t go into those sections here, but you can read for yourself the Florida estate plan that the state government has in mind for you – whether you like it or not.
So even the people who don’t have a Will, really have one. It’s just the one Florida has in mind for them. To control your own destiny, get your head out of the sand, and consult your Florida estate planning lawyer. Really, it won’t hurt. Promise.