Leaving a child behind

If you have a minor child, having a will is critical for your peace of mind and your child’s security in the event of your death.  Speaking to an estate planning attorney will allow you to consider the consequences in the event of your death and the options that are available to you to protect your child’s future if you are suddenly not in the picture.

Creating a will with a spring up or testamentary trust for your minor child allows you to appoint a guardian to care for your child and a trustee who will oversee the monies that are left for the benefit of your child in the event of your death. The trustee, may be the same person, or someone different.

Failure to give clear direction in a will leaves your child vulnerable to legal debates about who will care for your child and who will be responsible for financial decisions regarding your child’s welfare.

The Florida Constitution protects the rights of minor children through homestead laws which prohibit the head of household from leaving his or her residence to anyone other than a spouse or minor child.  Under this law a surviving spouse is given use of the property for the remainder of his or her life, and then the home passes to the minor children.

If a person dies without a will, any property that person owned during his or her life will pass under Florida’s intestate succession law. Intestate succession is a law that distributes the decedent’s estate for the remaining heirs. Florida law requires the court to appoint a guardian for minors in circumstances where the parents die or become incapacitated or if a child receives an inheritance or proceeds of a lawsuit or insurance policy exceeding the amount allowed by statute.

Under that statute, if you die with children but no spouse, your children inherit everything. If you die with a spouse but that spouse is not the parent of your minor child, then your spouse will inherit half of your intestate property and your minor child will inherit the other half of the intestate property.

If you would like a free family assessment for assuring that your estate planning, real estate, long term care, and death directives are in place, call Attorney Linda Carley at 386-281-3340. Linda Carley has more than thirty years of legal experience, including serving as a probate judge