WILLS & ESTATE PLANNING
Nothing evokes greater fear of mortality than planning for your own demise. Yet, no matter how grim the thought maybe, you must always remember life’s golden rule: tomorrow is not promised.
For this reason, it is important to get your affairs in order now, regardless of your worth or material possessions.
Believe it or not, nearly everyone has an estate.
Your estate is comprised of everything you own including your car, home, real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. Regardless how large or modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.
It is important to plan for when that happens by taking control now so that your valuables are given to the people or organizations you care most about.
In order to ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom will receive your possessions, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs.
This, by definition, is estate planning and includes:
Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
Instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
A named guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
Life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
Instructions for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
A plan to minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
An up to date plan that reflects how your family, financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.
WHO IS ESTATE PLANNING FOR?
Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is for everyone, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, circumstances make it such that we can’t successfully predict future illness, accidents, or how long we will live. Sudden events can happen to anyone at any time.
While people with built-in wealth most commonly think about how to preserve it, estate planning is for everyone. In fact, estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.
DON’T PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW WHAT CAN BE DONE TODAY
People put off estate planning for a multitude of reasons -- most commonly because they think they have plenty of time, that they don’t own enough, that they’re not old enough, that they’re too busy, or because they’re confused and don’t know who can help them. Then, when something happens to them, their families are left in grief and with the burden of picking up the pieces.
If you die without a Will (intestate), the State of Florida determines how your assets will be distributed If you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. This means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (i.e., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.
Given the choice - and it is your choice - wouldn’t you prefer that these matters be handled privately by your family rather than by the courts?
WHERE TO BEGIN
Your Florida Will or Living Trust is an essential part of your estate plan. Your Will is a written legal document that specifies how your assets will be divided, and to whom.
Wills must conform to Florida law and must clearly reflect your wishes. While do-it-yourself forms may be tempting, remember that a Last Will and Testament is the last thing you’ll do. If a mistake is discovered after your death, you lose all control as to how the matter is remedied.
For this reason, it is recommended that you engage a qualified attorney, such as Marcus E. Stein, to assist in your will & estate planning.
In the event of your passing, it is necessary to have an attorney in place to handle the administration of your probate estate. Many legal issues arise, even in the simplest probate estate administration, and most of these issues will be novel and unfamiliar to non-attorneys.
Marcus E. Stein is a well-respected Florida estate planning lawyer who will listen carefully to your goals and make personalized suggestions as to the best methods for structuring your Will.
WHAT IS A LIVING TRUST?
A living trust is a legal document created by you (the grantor) during your lifetime. Just like a will, a living trust spells out exactly what your desires are with regard to your assets, your dependents, and your heirs. The big difference is that a will becomes effective only after you die and your will has been entered into probate. A living trust bypasses the costly and time-consuming process of probate, enabling your successor trustee (who fills basically the same role as an executor of a will) to carry out your instructions as documented in your living trust at your death, and also if you’re unable to manage your financial, healthcare, and legal affairs due to incapacity.
A living trust can also be a very effective tool for an unmarried individual, regardless of financial situation, presuming that the individual’s desires can’t be fulfilled by utilizing beneficiary designations and the joint with rights of survivorship titling option and powers of attorney.
Contact Marcus E. Stein for your free consultation and learn what options are available to you to begin your estate plan today!