Recent times have shown us more than ever the importance of having a Will, Trust and Estate Plan put together. Nobody wants to think about leaving behind their loved ones, so there is often a hesitation to establish an estate plan because it forces us to face a reality we don’t like.
The incredible gift of an estate plan, however, is not only the peace of mind it can bring you but also the peace it can bring to your surviving family and loved ones. When you create an estate plan yourself, you can be confident about getting your affairs in order the way you’d like, and you can alleviate so much stress and strife for your family and loved ones after your death.
Thoughtfully putting a Florida estate plan together allows your family the opportunity to grieve and spend more time together, as they won’t need to spend so much time figuring out what to do with your estate, home, assets, etc.
While it’s not a pleasant thought, putting your estate plan together can eliminate any bickering among relatives and it can also help ensure the people you want to get certain assets do, and perhaps certain people you do not want to get certain assets don’t.
If someone dies without an estate plan in Florida, it is known as “dying intestate.” If someone dies “intestate,” everything in their estate is subject to probate.
Probate is a court-supervised process which identifies all assets of the person who died, pays off any and all outstanding debts, and then distributes any remaining assets to beneficiaries according to Florida state law and a judge’s discretion. The probate process can be long, grueling and expensive. Your family and loved ones could spend a large portion of their inheritance on court costs and attorneys fees alone.
An estate plan, however, can help use the law as a shield to protect your assets from probate. This can also help save your family from any additional heartache.
A Florida will is often viewed as the “golden ticket,” when it comes to planning for the future and protecting and distributing our assets. A will on its own, however, guarantees there will be the Probate Process for your loved ones.
People often have the misconception that if their assets are below a certain level, a will can protect them from Probate, but that is not the case. A will cannot protect your assets from Probate in Florida.
There are a variety of different types of trusts, and the specific requirements vary from state to state.
Trusts can accomplish many estate planning goals, such as supplementing or replacing a will. A trust can manage a person’s property and protect it from creditors. Certain trusts can provide tax benefits and reduce tax liabilities. And, a trust may allow your estate to avoid the probate process.
A revocable living trust is a type of trust that can protect your assets and estate from the time consuming and expensive probate process in Florida if the assets are transferred into the trust before you die. This is a common way to get certain tax benefits and to protect property from creditors.
Not going through probate also allows the details of your estate plan to remain private. When an estate is probated, all the court files become a public document.
If you have children, there is no better time to get your Florida Estate Plan together than now.
Most of the time, when one parent dies or becomes disabled, the child’s other parent is entitled to custody. Sometimes, however, the other parent has already died or is unable to raise the children. In some traumatic cases, both parents die at the same time - such as when they’re involved in a terrible car accident or some other type of accident together.
Even if you expect your spouse or your child’s other parent to be able to care for and raise them in the event that you die, you should still name a guardian for your child or children. As mentioned above, there is always the possibility that both parents could die or become disabled at the same time.
If you don’t name a guardian for your children, the court will appoint one for you - and it might not be the person or people you would want to raise your child. Technically, a court is not obligated to appoint the person you choose as a guardian, but the court typically agrees with the parents’ wishes unless there is evidence that the person named is unfit to raise a child.
When it comes to guardianship, there are two different types. One is the guardian of the estate, and the other is the guardian of the person. Guardian of the estate is in charge of any assets, funds, finances that are left to the child or children. A guardian of the person is a role in which the guardian assumes the role of the child’s parents. The guardian of the estate and guardian of the person can be the same person, or two different people.
6. Coronavirus Pandemic: Why COVID-19 is a Timely Reminder to get an Estate Plan together
We’ve been navigating the coronavirus pandemic for nearly 2 years now. In South Florida, unfortunately, COVID-19 cases and deaths have been hitting new records lately.
Whether COVID, or something else, the pandemic reminds us of the fragility of life. No one, however unfortunate to think about, is promised tomorrow. Even healthy people can get sick and not survive as expected.
The three MOST important estate planning documents to get in place, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Surrogate
- Living Will
- If you have children under 18, you’ll also need:
- A Will
- A Trust
Florida Estate Planning Attorney: Get Everything you Need in Order with Rosenberg Law Firm’s One-Stop Shop for All of Your Estate-Planning Needs
The Law Office of Andrew G. Rosenberg, P.A. understands how hard it is to lose a loved one, and we’ve seen how legal wrangling among surviving family members can make the entire experience even more painful - we want to help you and your loved ones avoid that.
Together, we will work to craft you a custom estate plan which will simplify the legal aspects of your death for your loved ones, so they can focus more on grieving together.
Our skilled Weston estate planning attorney handles a broad range of estate planning cases. We can help you with:
- Revocable trusts
- Special needs trusts
- Durable powers of attorney
- Health care surrogates
- Living wills
- Living trusts
- Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship
- And much more.
To speak with an experienced Weston estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call our Coral Springs office directly at 954.755.7803 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve Florida residents including all of Weston, Parkland, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and all points in between.