Estate Planning FAQ

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is planning for the possibility of your incapacity or your death. Estate Planning is done for the protection of you and your family and allows family members to have access and control of your affairs in the event that you are unable. Estate Planning will give you and your family the peace of mind knowing your affairs are in order should an emergency happen.

What Are The Basic Estate Planning Documents That Everyone Should Have?

The basic Estate Planning Documents are:

  1. Will.Sometimes called a Last Will and Testament, this is the document that decides who gets your property after you pass on and who will be in charge of your estate.
  2. Durable Power of Attorney. This document allows a trusted person to act as your agent and sign documents on your behalf. A Durable Power of Attorney will allow you agent to act on your behalf even when you are incapacitated.
  3. Living Will. This document directs your attending physician and your trusted person to terminate artificial machines which are extending your life if you are in a permanent comatose or vegetative state with no chance of recovery.
  4. Durable Health Care Power of Attorney. This document, also known as a Health Care Surrogate or Health Care Proxy, allows you to appoint a trusted person to make medical care decisions for you in the event that you are unable because of your incapacity.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of the administration of your Estate after your death. Probate is done in court.

Will My Estate Still Go Through Probate If I Have A Will?

In general Yes. Having a Will does not avoid probate but avoids your final estate from being distributed "Intestate" which means according to the distribution rules provided by Florida Statutes. If you have a valid Will then the probate court will distribute your assets according to how you direct in your Will.

How Do I Avoid Probate?

Whether or not your estate must be probated depends on what assets you own and how they are titled. One way to avoid probate is to utilize a Revocable Trust also known as a Living Trust. However, even without a Living Trust, it is possible with careful Estate Planning to completely avoid probate. Our Estate Planning Attorneys can determine if your estate can be structured in such a way to completely avoid Probate.

What Is A Living Trust?

A Living Trust or sometimes called a Revocable Trust is a legal relationship between three parties, the Settlor, the Trustee, and the Beneficiary. In a Living Trust the Settlor transfers legal title to some or all of his or her property to the Trustee who holds, manages and disburses the trust property and its income for the benefit of the Beneficiary. The Trustee is governed by terms of the Trust Agreement which is drafted by the Settlor.

What Are The Benefits Of A Living Trust.

A Living Trust has the following benefits:

  1. A Living Trust enables your loved ones to manage and disburse your assets for your benefit when you are unable.
  2. A Living Trust may enable you to reduce or eliminate Federal Estate Taxes.
  3. A Living Trust may enable you to avoid Probate for your estate after you pass on.
  4. A Living Trust is able to address the special needs of family members who may have physical or mental disabilities or other personal issues which interfere with their ability to manage their own financial affairs.