Common Myths

Myth #1

Myth: My spouse and I own everything jointly, so we don't need Wills.

Fact: If you die at the same time, the laws of Florida will determine the relatives who benefit, regardless of what you and your spouse have intended.

Myth #2

Myth: I am not married, and want my child to inherit my house when I die, so the best thing is to put the child's name on the deed.

Fact: If you do this, and change your mind later, you cannot require the child to change the title back to your name alone.  If the child has creditors, they can seize the child's ownership interest in the house.

Myth #3

Myth: When I sign a Will, it takes care of how everything is distributed when I die.

Fact: It only takes care of assets in your name alone, and assets for which there is no beneficiary designation. You need to also have beneficiary designations for retirement plans and life insurance.

Myth #4

Myth: My spouse and I want to make a gift to our children, but we are afraid to do so because any gift over $28,000 requires that we pay tax.

Fact: A gift over this amount only requires you to file a very simple informational return.  You have a lifetime gift tax exemption of $5,430,000.

Myth #5

Myth: I want to prepare documents to avoid probate, but I hear that this is very expensive.

Fact: This only requires that the lawyer draft an additional document called a Living Trust, which is also known as a Revocable Trust. In most cases, this is not a significant additional expense.

Myth #6

Myth: I have a business partner, and we get along well, so we don't need a written agreement.

Fact: You should have a contract for what will happen if one of you dies or becomes disabled. If you don't have a contract, and one of you dies or becomes disabled, the cost of litigation likely will be many times what it would have cost to draft the contract.

Myth #7

Myth: I am getting married, and I told my fianceé that under my Will, in case of my death, everything goes to my children, so nothing more is needed.

Fact: Under Florida Law, your fianceé is still entitled to a significant portion of your assets, unless a Prenuptial Agreement is signed by both of you.

Myth #8

Myth: I would like to leave money to my children in a Trust but won't do it because it will be too complicated.

Fact: A Trust is more complicated than leaving money outright, but it also protects the child from spending too much, or having his or her creditors seize the inheritance. If the Trust is properly drafted, administering it can be fairly simple.

Myth #9

Myth: I want to disinherit someone, but I am afraid to do it, because I know how easy it is to challenge this.

Fact: If the Will or Trust that disinherits someone is properly prepared, signed, and witnessed, it is normally difficult to challenge. If the person signing the Will or Trust is very elderly, additional preventive steps can be taken to make it much harder to challenge the document.

Myth #10

Myth: If I become disabled, my property gets tied up in court, and there is nothing I can do to prevent this.

Fact: This can be avoided. You can draft a power of attorney so that the holder of the power can act on your behalf.   If you have a Living Trust, the assets held by the Trust are managed by the Successor Trustee, and the court is not involved.