Probate, estates, and trusts can be puzzling, particularly when there is already a lot on your plate. Probate is the legal process of administering someone’s estate after they pass away. For dispersing property to your loved ones, every estate plan involves legal requirements and formalities. If you’re dealing with a decedent’s estate – or if you’re planning your own – you might wonder if you need a Florida probate attorney. Dealing with probate law, trusts, and estates after someone passes away can be a challenging scenario.
Estates and Trusts: Importance of an Estate Plan
Disagreements over business and assets succession may emerge, your estate may pay significantly more in estate taxes, creditors may take your estate and unanticipated beneficiaries may inherit a share of your assets. Without an estate plan, questions about who will be designated as guardian of your minor children may surface. Furthermore, if you become incapable without a Financial and Health Care Power of Attorney in place, a court-appointed guardian may be required, and this guardian may not be someone you would have picked.
For such reasons, it is important to have the following estate planning tools in place:
- Last Will and Testament – A Last Will and Testament direct the distribution of your probate assets, the appointment of a guardian for your young children, and the appointment of an Executor to finalize your estate. Gathering all probate assets, paying bills, estate taxes, if any, and last, expenses, completing final tax reports, and dispersing the outstanding amount to the beneficiaries are all part of an Executor’s responsibilities.
- Financial Power of Attorney – This appoints someone to make financial decisions on your behalf and is most commonly used when you are unable to handle your finances due to physical or mental incapacity. In the case of your incapacity, having a trusted agent in place to manage your financial affairs should eliminate the need for a court-appointed guardian of your estate. A Financial Power of Attorney can go into effect immediately after you sign it, or it can go into effect if and when you are medically unable to manage your affairs.
- Trusts – Trusts come in a variety of shapes and sizes to help you reach your estate planning aims and outcomes. Trusts can be irrevocable or revocable, and they can be used to protect and defend your assets, give gifts to your children without giving them power over the gift, reduce or eliminate estate taxes, keep assets until a beneficiary reaches the age or for the beneficiary’s lifetime, offer additional support for disabled beneficiaries, and provide privacy. Trusts are also utilized to carry out sophisticated and complicated business succession and charitable giving strategies. The designation of your Trustee should be given careful thought, as the Trustee will monitor the trust (including the investment of trust funds), be liable for the payment of expenses, ensuring that tax returns are submitted, and dispense the trust assets according to the trust agreement’s conditions.
- A Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will Declaration – This designates an agent to make health-care decisions on your behalf, including end-of-life choices if you are unable to do so for yourself. Your wishes for medical care and end-of-life choices are stated in the Living Will Declaration. Having this paperwork in place can help you avoid needing a court-appointed guardian.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning Attorney
You can ensure that your final desires are carried out and your legacy is maintained by putting smart estate planning in place. Your money, real estate, and other assets might be depleted if you don’t plan ahead, and they could even end up in the wrong hands. Let Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law, LP, in Florida assist you with your estate planning.