Consulting an attorney after the loss of a loved one may seem unnecessary, especially if the person left a will and had a traditional estate. However, securing legal counsel can make a big difference in the lives of those affected by the loss.
When any person passes away, steps must be taken to resolve all financial and property-related matters of that person's estate. This typically happens during probate, which is the legal process of validating a person's will, paying debts and distributing assets.
In the days following a person's death, family members and loved ones can be suffering with immense grief and sadness. During such a difficult time, any task that creates contention or confusion can make the situation that much more upsetting.
It is important for Floridians of all financial situations to have basic estate planning documents drafted so that when they pass on their interests and intentions will be respected regarding their assets. However, even when testamentary documents are clearly written, it is helpful to have a responsible person named as the individual who will see that the decedent's wishes are followed and their debts paid. This person is called an executor and their responsibilities surround the execution and probating of a will.
Some readers of this Florida legal blog may be familiar with the purpose of a personal will. For those who are not, a will is an estate planning tool that explains what the individual wants done with their property when they die. The maker of a will can name particular parties as beneficiaries to receive money, goods and other assets through the will. In a will, a person may also disinherit a family member who might otherwise have had a claim to some or all of the will creator's estate.