Did you know that when you created your Florida last will and testament you made an important decision to secure your family’s future and made sure your assets would be distributed according to your wishes?  In addition, you made this first step in developing a strong Florida estate plan with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney. Sadly, many people think having only a Florida last will and testament is enough to protect not only their minor children but their legacy, as well.  

Truthfully, however, a Florida last will and testament alone may not provide the total protection needed to be sure of the well-being of your children and preserve your legacy. You need key methods to develop a plan that can provide for both of these important parts of your life that a will, on its own, may not be able to accomplish. We want to explore not only the limitations of a will alone here in our blog but also discuss other methods to better protect both your minor children and your legacy.

To begin, let’s address the limitations of a Florida last will and testament by itself. Of course a will is a crucial legal document that allows you to appoint guardians for your minor children and distribute your assets, but it does have limitations. Below are just a few of the reasons a will alone may not be sufficient:

  • Probate cannot be avoided. A Florida last will and testament must go through the probate process, which can be time-consuming and costly. 
  • Delays during probate cannot be avoided. Probate is not a quick process. It may take months or even years before beneficiaries receive their inheritance the way you intended for them to. This can cause financial strain and uncertainty, especially for minor children who rely on immediate financial support.
  • There could be will contests and legal battles. Unfortunately, wills can be contested, especially if dissatisfied family members or other parties believe they were unfairly excluded or not adequately provided for.  This could lead to costly legal battles, potentially diminishing your estate and disrupting your intended legacy.
  • There may be limitations to guardianship. You can designate guardians for your minor children in your will, but the court will still need to validate your choice. If someone challenges your guardianship nomination or if the court finds the designated guardians unfit, they may appoint someone else whom you would not have chosen to care for your children.

Next, let’s address legacy planning beyond your will. A last will and testament is a crucial tool of Florida estate planning but it is also important to explore additional options to preserve your legacy effectively. With our clients we discuss additional strategies including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Creation of a revocable trust. What is a revocable trust? A revocable trust offers a more complete way to manage and distribute your assets during your lifetime and after your passing, bypassing probate and reducing administrative costs.
  • Creation of legacy trusts for minor children. We know you want to protect your minor children and establishing a trust is often a more effective approach. This trust will allow you to appoint a trustee now, who will manage and distribute assets to your children according to your instructions.
  • Creation of charitable giving and tax avoidance. Have you thought about establishing a charitable foundation or making charitable bequests? These charitable trusts can leave a lasting impact on causes that are important to you, ensuring your legacy extends beyond your immediate family. It is also crucial to understand that these trusts can have significant tax avoidance strategies involved and further protect your legacy.

To conclude, a Florida last will and testament is a strong and vital starting point for Florida estate planning. But it may not offer complete protection for your minor children or ensure the preservation of your legacy. To achieve these goals, it is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced Florida estate planning attorney who can help you create a comprehensive plan tailored to your unique circumstances.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At David H. Jacoby Elder Law Advocate, P. A., we are focused on providing thorough, ethical, and timely solutions for our clients and their loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.