J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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We can help protect your Florida family against will contests

Last month, this Florida blog discussed a dispute about the estate of the late Hall of Fame baseball player, Ernie Banks. In his last will, Banks left all of his assets to his caretaker. His surviving children are challenging Banks's final will, arguing that his caretaker improperly influenced his decision to leave her all of his assets. Regardless of the outcome, this case can serve as a good lesson for other Floridians who want to protect their families from similar problems in the future.

Preparing a will is usually the most important step that a person can take to ensure that, upon their death, their estate will be handled as they wish. On the other hand, if a Florida resident dies without a will, the probate court will divide their assets based on Florida's intestacy laws. Not only does this mean that the deceased, or testator, has no say over how the estate is distributed. It could also end up causing a rift amongst family members, some of whom might feel cheated by the probate process.

In addition to preparing a thorough and unambiguous will, people can take other steps that might prevent the kind of litigation that Banks's family is pursuing. For example, the testator can assign a trusted family member or friend with a power of attorney. This will enable the attorney-in-fact to watch over the estate as the testator grows old or becomes unable to make appropriate decisions about their estate. The attorney-in-fact can also periodically ensure that the will is in good order and in line with what the testator wants.

At our Polk County-based law firm, we help people with all areas of handling their estate, including will preparation and execution. We understand how important it can be for a person to have the peace of mind of knowing that their family will be taken care of in the future. A robust estate plan and well-prepared will can achieve these goals while preventing potential future conflicts about the estate in question.

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