Ideally, individuals in Florida and throughout the country will prepare a will as part of their estate plan. A will allows an individual to determine who receives assets that remain in that person’s estate when he or she passes. This can be especially useful for those who aren’t married to their partners or who prefer to give money to a charity or other organization. Without a will, a deceased person’s assets may be distributed to a spouse or parent in accordance with state law.

Creating a will may also make it easier to prevent conflicts between family members after an individual passes. It is also important to note that a person can name a guardian for a minor child in his or her will. It is also important to understand that some assets can be transferred to beneficiaries through payable-on-death (POD) designations.

Depending on how a home is titled, it might pass to a spouse, sibling or other individual as soon as the current owner passes. In many cases, a spouse must be the listed beneficiary of a 401(k) unless that person agrees to waive the right to inherit the account. Assets listed in the will cannot be transferred until the probate process is complete. There is a chance that some or all of an estate’s assets will be used to pay debts or settle other claims against it.

Creating a will is typically one of the most important steps in the estate planning process. Individuals may also want to consider adding trusts and power of attorney documents to their overall plan. This may make it easier to respect a person’s wishes both before and after he or she passes. An attorney may be able to help create or review plan documents.