“I don’t need a will.” Famous last words.

I’ve handled numerous cases involving the death of a loved one due to medical or hospital malpractice or nursing home abuse where the deceased didn’t have a will. The spouse then comes to me and says “His children never spoke to him for the last (fill in a time period) years, and now they want money from the lawsuit for his death.”

Unfortunately, if the loved one died without a will specifying how he wants his estate distributed on his death, they will have a valid claim. Under Florida law, if someone dies without a will, the surviving spouse gets half of the estate and the children split the other half. Yes, even if they had nothing to do with dear old dad or mom.

“But I won’t have anything to go into an estate when I die, so why do I need a will?” Jointly held property automatically goes to the survivor, but you may not be aware that any wrongful death lawsuit proceeds automatically become proceeds of the estate. So, even if there’s nothing to go into the estate, there could very well be an extremely large amount of money going to the estate as settlement or verdict from a lawsuit.

So, if you want the money-grubbing relatives to come out of the woodwork and profit from your death, go ahead and don’t make a will. Otherwise, it’s best to have a will.

I’m just sayin’.