My spouse died with a will and did not leave me anything in their will. Do I have any special rights?
Whether or not you have a validly executed Will, your estate will go through Probate to the extent that you die owning assets in your name. “Probate” is the legal process through which a deceased person’s affairs are formally settled. First, an attorney must be retained to open up an estate w/ the court. A person is then appointed to administer the estate, who is often called a Personal Representative or Executor.
The Personal Representative works with the attorney and is responsible for overseeing the entire process, beginning with locating a validly executed will. The Personal Representative must then identify and gather all the deceased person’s assets, file an inventory with the court and notify the deceased’s creditors of the pending estate. It’s a lot of work. Next, assets are then pooled together and used to satisfy creditors’ claims.
Finally, the balance of assets are ultimately distributed to the proper beneficiaries, who – as you now know from the crash course on wills – are determined by the will or may be decided for you by the state in which you reside. A properly drafted and executed estate plan will remove all assets from your name and provide for a smooth transition for your family not only after death (avoiding probate), but in the event you become incapacitated from injury or illness (guardianship). It’s a no-brainer for both financial as well as emotional reasons. Depending on the complexity of the estate, an administration can last for years. In our economic environment, it can take even longer because there are less clerks, court staff and case managers. It’s also dangerously unpredictable and avoidable thus resulting in unnecessary administration expenses (including attorneys’ fees and costs). Like most states, in Florida, you CANNOT disinherit your spouse. While the surviving spouse will retain rights to your estate, it does impose the burden of taking action to enforce those rights.
“Planning with Purpose,” Haimo Law (HaimoLaw.com) can help you plan for and protect your family and your business’s interests for the immediate and long-term future. Together, we can take advantage of incredible tools and techniques that are available to you right now. Call us for wills, trusts, probate, asset protection and business planning. Haimo Law offers premium professional representation at an affordable price. Alternative fee arrangements are available upon request. We are reliable, approachable, honest, hard-working and attentive.
Helping your family and business is our priority. We look forward to meeting and exceeding your expectations.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
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