WILLS, TRUSTS, AND PROBATE
Estate Planning is the process of establishing a plan for the security and distribution of your assets in the event of your death or disability. Contrary to popular belief, Estate Planning is not only for the wealthy and elderly, it is for anyone including you. If you plan in advance, you can have your estate distributed according to your preferences. However, in the absence of any planning, your estate will be distributed according to the Florida laws of intestacy, and this may not reflect your preferences.
In developing an Estate Plan you may want to ask yourself the following questions?
- How will my assets be distributed when I die?
- Do I need a will?
- What is a living will?
- What happens when there is no will?
- What is a trust, is it a substitute for a will?
- Is a life insurance a substitute for a will?
- If I die who will be named guardian of my minor children?
- What is probate?
- What is a revocable trust?
- Who will make my health care decisions if I am unable to make them?
- Who will sign legal documents for me if I am unable to?
- If I am incapacitated and cannot communicate my own desires, how can my doctors follow my wishes regarding my medical care and life-prolonging procedures?
Our attorneys can assist you in answering the above questions and or dispel any doubts you may have in your answers.
What is Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. It is a process created by state law to transfer assets from the decedent to the beneficiaries. A personal representative is appointed to handle the estate administration. The personal representative is accountable to the court as well as the beneficiaries. For probate estates having less than $75,000 of non-exempt assets, Florida law provides a simplified probate procedure known as summary administration.
Not all assets owned by a decedent require probate. Assets owned jointly “as tenants by the entireties” with a spouse, or “with rights of survivorship” will pass to the surviving owner without probate. This is also true for assets with designated beneficiaries, such as a life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities, bank accounts designated as “pay on death” or “in trust for” a named beneficiary. Assets held in a trust also avoid probate.
There are many options available when considering estate planning. Some of those are indicated below:
The above list is not all inclusive. You may require additional documents depending on your particular needs or concerns.
Please contact us for a free consultation with our dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys to help you with your legal needs. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at (305) 442-1439. To reach us via email, please fill out our online contact form available under the “Contact Us” tab, and a member of our staff will contact you promptly. We look forward to serving you.