Estate planning helps you accomplish four goals:
We will work closely with you, your family, financial advisor, and accountant to:
We’ll work collaboratively to develop a custom-designed plan that reflects your needs and values.
Our office includes DocuBank as part of our client service package to ensure that your Living Will, Designation of Health Care Surrogate and other important medical information will be available at the hospital when needed.
For more information on Estate Planning Overview, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 827-7777 today.
Estate planning is the process of creating documents that protect you and your loved ones should you ever become sick or when you pass away.
Are Most People Surprised At The Amount Of Assets They Have To Protect?
The assets that people forget about most when discussing estate planning are life insurance and retirement accounts. Most people that have young children will have life insurance. Even if someone does not have a lot of money, there is often life insurance that will need to be accounted for when he or she is planning.
What Happens If Someone Passes Away Without Setting Up An Estate Plan?
You need an estate plan if you have anyone in your life that depends on you, because creating an estate plan will make it easier for the people left behind to deal with the financial impact of your death. If you die without an estate plan, the state of Florida has a plan for you. The plan is called the Laws of Intestacy. The Laws of Intestacy govern how your estate is distributed if you do not have a will. Typically, under the Laws of Intestacy, if you are married, your estate goes to your spouse, unless you have children from outside of the marriage, in which case your spouse will share the estate with them.
Where the Laws of Intestacy have their biggest weakness is in situations of a committed couple that is not married, or a blended family. The Laws of Intestacy make absolutely no provision for stepchildren, and yet I find that many of my clients want to make some provisions for their stepchildren.
Why Do People Procrastinate When Setting Up An Estate Plan?
Most people say it is on their “to do” list because they know that it is very important, but they do not see it as something that needs to be done urgently. However, you will have peace of mind from knowing that the estate plan is there and ready to protect you and your loved ones should it be necessary.
How Often Should People Maintain Their Estate Plan?
It is appropriate to have a checkup every year or two, or when there is an important event in someone’s life such as a birth, adoption or the death of a family member. Also, a significant change in financial position might cause someone to reevaluate the estate plan.
For more information on Estate Planning in Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 727-827-7777 today.
The Personal Representative is the person charged with distributing the decedent’s estate after his or her death. He or she must pay the valid claims of creditors, file any needed tax returns and distribute assets to the beneficiaries. If we create a trust or if the will has some trust provisions in it, a trustee might also be identified and that person has ongoing duties to distribute funds to the beneficiaries.
The Healthcare Surrogate is charged with making healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Sometimes the Healthcare Surrogate must make a decision as to whether life support should or should not be removed. Another important role is that of a guardian to minor children. If a child’s parents both pass away, the estate plan should identify who will take responsibility for any minor children that are left behind.
What Does The Personal Representative Have To Do To Settle The Estate?
If the decedent had a Will, the Personal Representative must bring the Will to court in the county where the decedent passed away. Then, the Personal Representative will ask the court to admit the Will to probate and to issue Letters of Administration. The Letters of Administration are a court order that gives the Personal Representative the authority to manage the affairs of the estate of the decedent. Once that is done, the Personal Representative will identify all of the beneficiaries, identify all of the decedent’s assets, and gather those assets to make sure they are secure. The Personal Representative will identify the decedent’s creditors and serve them with a Notice to Creditors giving those creditors the opportunity to make claims against the estate of the deceased.
If creditors do make claims against the estate, the Personal Representative will decide whether to pay those claims or object to them. Once the claims have been disposed of, the Personal Representative may need to file tax returns and deal with any remaining tax liabilities of the decedent. Then, the Personal Representative will make distributions to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Finally, the Personal Representative will ask to be released by the court and estate administration ends.
What Are The Basic Constituents Of An Estate Plan?
The Last Will and Testament is a document that sets forth how someone wants his or her assets to be distributed after death. It identifies the Personal Representative. If there are minor children, it will identify who should be the guardian for those children. Sometimes a person’s Will includes provisions for money to be held in a testamentary trust. Another document that we prepare is a Durable Power of Attorney. This is a document that authorizes a family member or trusted advisor to manage your personal business for you should you be incapacitated and unable to manage it yourself.
There are a series of documents related to healthcare that we prepare. A Living Will is a document that sets forth your wishes should you be unable to make decisions for yourself and suffer from a terminal condition, an end-stage condition or a permanent vegetative state. I find that most of my clients wish that if they were ever unfortunate enough to find themselves in such a situation, they would want life sustaining measures to be discontinued and to be able to die peaceably with medication given for pain management only. The Living Will sets forth those wishes. The second document in that series is the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate that appoints someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.
The third is a document called a HIPAA Authorization. That is a document that authorizes the release of your medical records to the decision makers so that they can be informed when they are making choices. A Designation Naming Preneed Guardian for Adult is a document that lets you choose someone who would be your legal guardian should you ever need one.
This document is very important because I often find that if a guardian is needed, but family members disagree as to whom should serve as guardian, the court will appoint a professional guardian, even though the incapacitated person would have preferred a family member take that role. The Designation Naming Preneed Guardian lets clients express that choice before they become incapacitated.
For more information on Parties Involved in an Estate Plan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling Kovar Law Group at 727-827-7777 today.’
Depending on the estate plan, from the time I meet with the clients and gather their information until the time that they return to sign the documents is typically one to two weeks.
What Is The Difference Between A Will And An Estate Plan?
The Will is a component of the estate plan. Practically every estate plan will include a Will if it is complete.
Do Most People Have A Customized Plan to Take Mental or Physical Incapacity into Consideration?
Most clients are thinking primarily about what will happen to their assets when they pass away. When creating an estate plan, we think about incapacity and make provisions for the ability of a loved one to make healthcare and business decisions if necessary.
What Are The Qualities To Look For In An Estate Planning Attorney?
I would look for an attorney who takes the same approach to estate planning that I take. I want you to control your life and your assets while you are alive and well. But if you should ever become sick or disabled, I want you and your loved ones to be protected and cared for in the way that you have chosen, by the people that you have chosen. When you die, I want you to be able to give what you have to the people you want to give it to when you want them to have it, and in the way you want them to have it. If I can accomplish all of those goals, then as a secondary goal, I want to save my clients as much money as possible in taxes, attorney’s fees, accountant fees and court costs.
As an attorney who not only practices estate planning, but also estate litigation, I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing wills that are ambiguous or sloppily prepared and this leads to disputes among the beneficiaries. If I were choosing an estate planning attorney, I would look for someone that was very careful and willing to give my documents the attention that they deserve. I might also look for somebody with experience in contested estate matters because that person is going to have the foresight to anticipate problems that an attorney who does not have that experience might not anticipate.
Finally, I would be very wary of an attorney who prepares a very short will that is just a “fill in the blanks form,” or an attorney who does not conduct the will signing in his or her office. To be valid, the will and all documents must be signed and executed with specific formalities. By letting execution of the documents take place outside of the office, the attorney is risking that the client makes some mistake that could invalidate the whole plan.
Additional Information about Estate Planning in Florida
As an attorney, I often find that my clients are frustrated because they may bring a legal problem to me and I am unable to tell them with certainty how long it will take to resolve their problem and how much it will cost to resolve that problem because legal matters are uncertain and there is no guaranteed outcome. However, estate planning is very rewarding to me because when I am engaged by the client, I can tell them exactly how much the estate plan will cost and that in a week or two, the documents will be ready and the estate plan process will be finished.
For more information on Timeframe of an Estate Plan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 727-827-7777 today.
I understand the challenges faced by same-sex couples. Now all couples can marry in Florida, but there are still federal rules with varying standards and a patchwork of laws from state to state. I help same-sex couples identify the advantages and disadvantages of marriage.
Partners who own property together may need to take additional steps to protect their assets after they get married.
For more information on Estate Planning For Same Sex Couples, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 727-827-7777 today.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of planning for distribution of someone’s assets after his or her death and during incapacity. The process can include planning for health care and end-of-life decisions. Estate planning is unique to each person’s situation and circumstance.
Who Needs Estate Planning?
Everyone should have some sort of estate plan. Many people put off estate planning or simply think they don’t need it. Even if you don’t think you have assets, you will still benefit from having an estate plan. If you have minor children, you should definitely have an estate plan. If you want your estate distributed according to your wishes and not by rules imposed by the state, you should have an estate plan.
How Often Should I Review My Estate Plan?
An estate plan is not permanent. Things can change and life events happen. Estate plans should at least be reviewed at least every 2-3 years. If a major change occurs, plans should be reviewed immediately. Some examples of major changes include: birth, death, marriage, divorce, large increase or decrease in net worth or assets, moving to a different state or the purchase or sale of a business.
What Makes Up My Estate?
An estate consists of all assets that you possess at the time you die. Some examples are real estate, business interests, personal property, cash, life insurance benefits, retirement plans and IRAs, stocks, and bonds.
What Should An Estate Plan Include?
Estate plans are very personal and they vary from person to person. However, the typical estate plan includes a Revocable Living Trust, a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian, HIPAA authorization and Durable Power of Attorney.
What Is A Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document giving an agent of your choice the power to make business and financial decisions on your behalf.
What Is A Health Care Surrogate?
A Health Care Surrogate is an adult who is selected to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself.
For more information on FAQs About Estate Planning, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 727-827-7777 today.