Florida probate mistakes are not uncommon, and they can have serious consequences for your estate and your loved ones. Probate can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive, especially if you make some of the following mistakes:
Not Having a Will
One of the most critical and unfortunately common mistakes people make is failing to have a valid will. Without a will, the distribution of your assets will be subject to Florida’s intestacy laws, which may not reflect your wishes or the needs of your family.
For example, if you die without a will and have a spouse and children from a previous marriage, your spouse will inherit half of your estate and your children will inherit the other half. This may cause conflicts and resentment among your loved ones, or leave some of them without adequate support.
To avoid this, you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you draft a will that expresses your preferences and protects your interests. A will can also allow you to name a personal representative who will be in charge of administering your estate and carrying out your instructions.
Having an Outdated Will
Even if you have taken the important step of creating a will, another common misstep is failing to keep it up to date.
Your life circumstances may change over time. These changes affect your estate plan and require you to update your will accordingly.
You should review your will periodically and make any necessary changes with the help of an estate planning attorney. You should also inform your personal representative and beneficiaries of any updates to your will and store it in a safe place where it can be easily accessed when needed.
Naming an Unqualified Executor
The executor is the person who is responsible for managing your estate, paying your debts and taxes, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. However, not everyone is eligible or suitable to serve as an executor.
Under Florida law, an executor must be at least 18 years old, mentally competent, and a resident of Florida or a close relative of the deceased. Additionally, an executor should be trustworthy, organized, and capable of handling the legal and financial aspects of probate.
However, some people make the mistake of naming an executor who does not meet these requirements or who is not willing or able to perform their duties.
For example, some people name their spouse or child as their executor without considering their age, health, location, or availability. Similarly, some people name their friend or neighbor as their executor without verifying their qualifications or suitability.
These mistakes can cause delays, disputes, or errors in probate that can jeopardize the estate and its beneficiaries.
To avoid this, you should carefully choose an executor who meets the legal criteria and who has the skills and willingness to handle the probate process. In addition, you should name an alternate executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
Not Giving Your Executor Clear Instructions
Your executor is bound by law to follow the terms of your will and act in the best interests of your estate and its beneficiaries. However, if your will is vague, incomplete, or contradictory, it may complicate the probate process.
For example, if you do not specify how to divide certain assets among your beneficiaries, such as personal property or sentimental items, it may cause conflicts or disputes among them. If you do not provide sufficient information on how to locate or access certain assets, it may cause delays or losses for your estate.
To avoid this, you should give your executor clear instructions on how to administer your estate and address any potential issues that may arise. You should also provide your executor with a list of your assets and liabilities, as well as any relevant documents or information that may be needed for probate.
Failing to Communicate with Your Beneficiaries
Your beneficiaries are the people who will inherit from you according to your will. However, if you do not inform them of your intentions, it may cause misunderstandings, disagreements, or resentment among them.
For example, if you do not tell your beneficiaries who you have named as your executor, they may question or challenge their authority or competence. If you do not explain to your beneficiaries why you have left them certain assets, they may feel hurt or offended by your choices.
To avoid this, you should communicate with your beneficiaries about your estate plan and encourage them to cooperate and respect each other during the probate process to avoid any conflicts or disputes that may harm the estate, or worse, their relationships.
We Can Help You Avoid Florida Probate Mistakes
As you can see, Florida probate mistakes can be costly and stressful for you and your loved ones. That is why it is important to take steps to avoid them.
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we can help you with all aspects of Florida probate, from drafting a will to administering an estate. We have the experience, knowledge, and skills to guide you through the probate process and ensure that your wishes are honored and your interests are protected. If you need assistance with Florida probate or have any questions about it, please do not hesitate to contact us today. You can reach us by phone at (305) 921-0976, by email at [email protected], or by WhatsApp at +1 (305) 921-0976.