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More thoughts on the importance of a will, living will, etc.

Does a person who has “a small amount of assets” need to have a trust in order to help heirs avoid probate? That was one of the questions posed recently to a Florida newspaper located west of Brevard County.

The reply was that probate can be avoided in certain situations if assets are properly titled. A Payable on Death designation for a bank account and stocks means those assets will not go through probate. The reply also urged the letter-writer to sit down with an estate planning attorney and draw up a will, living will and durable power of attorney.

A living will helps people decide on the level of care they would receive and a power of attorney enables them to determine how their financial affairs will be handled in the event they are one day incapacitated.

A will is perhaps the most basic, effective estate planning tool available. It distributes your property according to your wishes upon your passing. The biggest problem you (and your heirs) face if you do not have a will: the state of Florida will decide upon your death how your assets will be distributed.

So even someone with few assets might be dismayed to learn that pieces of great sentimental value are not passed on as they would have wanted. Of course, many folks will try a do-it-yourself will, either online or from a retail outlet. The problem with these can be that they try to create one-size-fits-all legal documents that simply will not fit your situation. And because people using DIY wills are typically not legal professionals, they can make mistakes on these crucial documents that can leave them open to challenge.

A discussion with a cost-effective, experienced estate planning lawyer can help you avoid these pitfalls and take care of your loved ones as only you know how.

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