David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Wills can help parents, pet owners make smart decisions

What happens to a person's assets after his or her death? For some people in Florida, the answer to this question is not important. However, individuals who do not take the time to create wills can ultimately put their families in difficult situations.

Most people have a general understanding of what a will is. An individual can list his or her assets and then designate who will receive what. Things like family heirlooms, cars, clothing, jewelry, photographs and more usually show up in wills. Even though retirement accounts and insurance policies are paid out to beneficiaries named on those accounts, including that same information in a will can help eliminate any confusion.

A will is much more than a list of assets that a person owns, though. Parents can designate guardians for their minor children or other dependents. Pet owners may select new owners for their four-legged friends. In both of these situations, money can be set aside specifically for the care of a child or pet. Since pets cannot legally own any property, any money intended for an animal's care should be left to the new owner.

When a person passes away without a will, he or she is considered intestate. Rather than that person's estate and assets being handled according to his or her wishes, Florida state law will take over. Those laws are often in conflict with people's actual wishes, and the process can be frustrating for loved ones who are trying to move through the grieving process. This is why creating thorough, valid wills is extremely important for virtually everyone.

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