As you survey the property you’ve accumulated through a lifetime of hard work, you may wonder what’s going to happen to it after you’re gone. Maybe there are family heirlooms or other prized possessions or items of sentimental value, and it really matters to you who inherits them. How can you make sure there’s an orderly distribution of your property to your loved ones?
Make an inventory of your assets, including personal property and family heirlooms. If you want your bequests to be fairly equal in value, get appraisals of more valuable items.
Are any of your items of great sentimental value to someone? Do you want to share the wealth among your family equally or will some inherit more than others? Maybe you want to leave your spouse the bulk of your estate, but would also like to leave some to close friends and family members as things by which to remember you.
Take a few minutes to think about this before meeting with your estate planning attorney. Depending on the value of the property, you may want to consider setting up a trust, or you may need to consider tax reduction strategies.
Discuss your wishes with your attorney. A qualified Florida estate planning lawyer will know how best to structure your plan to satisfy your desires. A good estate plan also means less stress for your family as they settle your estate.
Diana, Princess of Wales, signed a Will and a Letter of Wishes several years before her death in 1997. Her estate seemed straightforward and easy to settle as most of her estate went to her sons. Rather than include specific bequests to her 17 godchildren in her Will, she spelled them out in the Letter of Wishes addressed to her executors.
Unfortunately for her godchildren, a court granted a variance of the Will to the executors because some of the language in the Letter of Wishes was incorrect. Instead of receiving the property their godmother wanted them to have, the godchildren ended up with trinkets of little value.