Regardless of the size of your estate or your individual goals, you can benefit from discussing your strategies directly with an Orlando estate planning attorney. One of the primary reasons to engage in the estate planning process early is to have clarity over your expectations and your individual goals.
Speaking with an attorney will help you to ensure that your documents and strategies remain updated as the course of your life evolves. A major mistake is going without an estate plan at all because the state is then responsible for determining what happens to your property should you pass away.
When a decedent has a will, the court will order distribution of property associated with the estate under the terms of the will. However, without any will, the person who has passed away without this document is said to have died intestate, meaning that the state now must manage all of the property through clear Florida statutes. There are several different things you can accomplish by having a will as other basic estate planning tools.
Your will allows you to give the court instructions on several crucial matters such as who is in charge of making distributions, who gets your property, and who you want to be named guardian of any minor children.
Do I Need Estate Planning If I’m Married with Children?
Many people are under the false assumption that the surviving parent or spouse would take all of the deceased spouse’s property. This is not always the case. If the decedent and the surviving spouse had no children outside of their marriage, the law will award all of the decedent’s property to the surviving spouse.
If the person who passed away had children with another individual, not the spouse who survived, or the living spouse had any children by another person, not the person who passed away, the remaining spouse would only receive one half the estate and the children of the decedent would receive the other half. In cases in which someone is married with no children, the intestate decedent’s surviving spouse would take it all. When a single person with children dies without a will, the entire estate is divided evenly among the children. For a single person with no child, the parents or the survivor of the decedent will receive the entire estate. This may trickle down to siblings.
What is a Simple Will?
A simple will is one of the most basic estate planning tools that can be referenced by an individual who wishes to outline the transition and distribution of their property after they pass way and to articulate plans for things such as the guardianship of any minor children. A basic will includes provisions to help with:
- Payment of taxes and debts.
- Separate writing that can dispose a personal property through your own list.
- Distribution of the remainder of property.
- Naming of a personal representative to step in and take over management of your estate.
- Specifying the personal representative’s powers, such as whether or not the personal representative is eligible to sell real estate without court approval.
In order for a will to be classified as valid in the state of Florida, it must appear to the court that it was intended to be the final expression of the creator’s wishes. One of the most common reasons for establishing a will or other estate planning tools such as a trust is to keep as much of the estate as possible outside of the probate process. During the probate process in Florida, final debts are handled and legal title to the property is officially passed from the person who passed away to his or her heirs. Probate occurs in the county in which the decedent legally resided at the time of death.
The custodian of the will does often take the first step to file the original will with the clerk of the court after a person dies. There are three primary steps involved in a probate procedure in Florida. These include gathering, making an inventory, and appraisal of all assets, payment to creditors and of taxes, and formal transfer of the estate property according to the will or through intestate succession. In order to have greater control and awareness of what happens when someone passes away in Florida, it’s important to consider estate planning as a whole.
Living Wills, Power Of Attorney, And Trusts
While many people are under the impression that the will is the most important of their documents, it is also critical to consider other key documents and strategies you may wish to use to best protect your interests. One common thing to consider are power of attorney documents and medical directives that help to articulate what should happen to you if you were to become incapacitated. A comprehensive estate plan considers all of the various aspects of incapacitation, disability and death. A well-crafted estate plan can:
- Generate funds for your children, charities and spouse.
- Shield your estate as well as the beneficiaries from taxes.
- Avoid your assets being tied up in court.
- Provide for the continuity of ownership and operations of a family business.
- Enable you to arrange for a smooth transition of your assets after you pass away.
In addition to a traditional will, you may also wish to use tools including a living will, powers of attorney, and trust. A living will is a legal document that allows you to determine the type of life sustaining procedures that you do or do not want to be used to prolong your life in an end stage or terminal condition.
This can be crucial for family members who are asked to step in during this difficult situation and may be unable to make an emotional decision on their own. When you cannot be present to make decisions about your own condition, another person who is empowered to do so can reflect on your living will to identify whether or not these procedures should be continued.
A power of attorney is another crucial document that you should keep updated on a regular basis. It is important to select the right person to serve as your power of attorney and to figure out whether you want this person to have restricted or broad powers. A POA is an official legal document that enables you to choose a person who can act on your behalf, known as your agent, for your business and legal matters when you are unable to do so.
There are various different types of powers of attorney that may be available to you and you can discuss directly with your Orlando estate planning lawyer when and how to use a power of attorney. The person that you select to choose as your agent in a power of attorney should be fully equipped to handle this situation and be confident in playing this role.
A trust is one of the most robust estate planning tools available today and they come in all different varieties. A trust can be established for a very specific purpose or it can be used for more general purposes such as to provide greater privacy for your estate. Since trusts do not go through the probate process that ultimately becomes a matter of public record in Florida, a trust is an excellent way to keep your private matters out of the court’s purview and out of public record.
Furthermore, trusts allow you to exercise greater control over the transition of your property. Trusts are popular tools for adults to pass on property to their spendthrift children or even children who have a history of mental illness, addiction or disability.
Your specific directions and orders are included in a trust document regarding how assets are to be distributed and handled. Trusts are private documents and are not filed with the probate court. They are often used primarily to avoid probate although they have many other benefits.
A revocable living trust is another more flexible tool that allows you to terminate or update the terms of the trust at any time during the course of your life. The assets that have been transferred into the trust are then distributed to your heirs after you pass away. You name yourself as the trustee in a revocable living trust to maintain complete control and access over the trust while you are still alive.
Contact An Experienced Orlando Estate Planning Attorney
Poor estate planning or the absence of an estate plan entirely can be very devastating for your family members as well as costly in a financial sense. During one of the most difficult time of their life when they are grieving the loss of a loved one, your family members don’t need the additional concerns associated with estate planning contest and disputes.
You need an Orlando estate planning attorney who is highly skilled at evaluating your individual needs and goals and helping you to accomplish these plans with specific strategies. An interview with an Orlando estate planning attorney can open your eyes to the various options available to you including living wills, trusts, complex wills, simple wills, and probate administration. You will walk away with a greater sense of peace of mind and clarity about what to do in order to most appropriately protect yourself.
Your estate planning attorney should be someone you turn to on a regular basis as there are changes in your life. Your estate planning attorney will outline strategies that connect your documents with one another. For example, having stipulations in your will over what will happen to your retirement accounts is not enough since IRAs and other retirement accounts may pass due to beneficiary designations.
You’ll want to ensure that these materials are updated regularly when a life event occurs such as the birth of a grandchild, the death of a beneficiary or a divorce. Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure that these documents all work together to accomplish your overall estate planning goals. When you can connect directly with an estate planning attorney who has extensive experience in this field and one who remains committed to pursuing what is truly in your best interests, you will gain a better sense of confidence and clarity about your future for you and your loved ones.
Learn more about your options in a free consultation with our experienced Orlando wills, trusts, and estate planning attorney. Call Frost Law at (407) 670-5569 today.