David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Wills can be effective estate planning tools

Dealing with matters of estate planning is not a pleasant thing to do, but it can be even more unpleasant for those loved ones left behind to sort out the details of an unprepared estate. Unfortunately, most people in Florida and across the country do not even have simple wills to express their wishes and to name someone to handle the process of closing the estate. A will is an excellent way to organize one's affairs so that loved ones are not left with an additional burden.

A will should include the names of those to whom the testator, who is the writer of the will, wishes to distribute his or her assets. Those assets can include personal belongings but also real estate, securities, stocks and bank accounts. A married couple should have separate wills, not a joint one. That way, each spouse can address his or her personal circumstances, such as children from previous relationships, separate assets and individual intentions toward specific causes.

Since more people have a digital presence, they may also have assets online. This may include social media accounts with pictures and other private items, online market accounts that may have a balance, and even blogs or websites that generate revenue. Most of these are password protected, which means they are also protected by laws. An attorney can advise a testator on the most effective ways to designate beneficiaries of any digital assets.

Florida laws regarding wills may not be the same as in other states. Therefore, if one has a will in place before moving to this state, it is wise to have an attorney review it for validity and to make sure it is the best estate planning instrument for the testator's circumstances. It is also a wise move to revise one's will periodically, especially after making any significant changes in one's life or financial situation. Doing this can protect a testator's loved ones from confusion and frustration.

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