J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Protecting assets and the family in the event of death: wills

Floridians know that death is part of a human's life, and eventually the end of all living things. People may accumulate assets and properties throughout their years. These assets may be distributed in various ways in the event of death. An individual may set up a will protecting assets as preparation for the death. Setting up a will may spare families from a possible fracture of relationships due to the amassed assets and properties.

Wills can be established with the help of a legal representative. A person should write the will while he or she is mentally alert in the presence of witnesses. A person should describe how the assets will be distributed according to the will. A person may also put some conditions in the will regarding inheritance. The power of attorney may be added to the will where an individual is appointed to take care of health care payments and other financial issues prior to death.

Residents may learn from the experiences of famous individuals pertaining to estate planning issues like wills. President Lincoln, who was an attorney before he was the President, left a financial estate with many glitches. His estate was settled after two years after his death.

Howard Hughes, a famous business magnate, philanthropist and aviator died intestate-meaning, without a valid will. Prior to his death, a handwritten will was found and eventually determined as forged. Howard Hughes's $2.5 billion estate was finally settled in 2010 and was divided among his 22 cousins after a series of litigation.

Elvis Presley, on the other hand, was well prepared for his death because he carefully set up wills and trusts. He ensured that his finances would be handled properly after his death.

Still, many people do not have a will. Everyone should have a will so that their possessions go to the people whom they wish to receive certain assets. How one's property is distributed upon death should be his or her choice and not someone else's.

Source: Wealthmanagement.com, "Lessons of the rich and famous ... in death," Jim Moniz, Dec. 24, 2012

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