The estate planning procedure in Florida encompasses numerous methods to manage property and the eventual distribution of assets. It also allows an opportunity to reduce tax penalties, fees, and costs. Our Estate Planning Attorney in Tampa Florida is affordable and focuses their daily practice on Estate Planning, wills and trusts, probate and estate litigation.
Tampa Estate Planning Attorney | What is a Will?
A will is a document that outlines terms for the allocation of property or assets when a person dies. If a person dies without a will, they are classified as dying intestate. In this situation, Florida Statutes determine who is responsible for managing the estate and how the property and assets of the estate will be distributed. It is highly possible that Florida’s Intestate Laws will provide for a distribution that is not in accordance with the deceased person’s wishes. Additionally, this method of estate settlement may lead to higher taxes, costs, and fees than if proper estate planning is accomplished prior to one’s death. Furthermore, estate planning can reduce conflict within the surviving family if done properly.
At a minimum, a Will should:
- Provide for how the decedent’s property should be distributed
- Provide provisions regarding any minor children, including naming a guardian for the minor children
- Appoint a Personal Representative of the estate
- Incorporate guidelines for burial and payment of final health expenses
Estate Planning | How Probate can be avoided?
Probate is the legal procedure that ascertains if a will is legal, satisfies the debts of the decedent and allocates resources/assets to beneficiaries. Most probate cases in Florida typically take six to twelve months to resolve, but depending on the circumstances, it can also take much longer. Also, if the estate is quite large, there may be no measures available to avoid probate. Fortunately, there are methods available that can be used so that one’s estate does not have to go through the Probate process.
These methods include:
Living Trusts | Estate Planning
- These documents transfer ownership of specific resources to a trust. As a trustee, an individual can directly control his or her own resources and appoint a successor trustee to take their place upon death or incapacitation. The persons named as beneficiaries have their property released to them in accordance with the terms of the Trust Agreement.
- Joint ownership – In this situation, co-owning property with a right of survivorship enables the ownership to immediately go to the other owner or owners if an individual dies.
- Accounts with designated beneficiaries – Any item with a title is allowed to have specific individuals listed as heirs. For instance, bank accounts, cars and retirement accounts follow this rule. Also an heir can extend how the funds are released from these accounts so as to avoid tax penalties.
- Durable Power of Attorney – This paperwork names someone to act in an individual’s stead and make decisions should a person become mentally or physically unable to do so.
- Living Will or Health Care Directive – This document outlines what type of medical treatment an individual would prefer in situations of terminal illness or health emergency where the individual has become physically or mentally unable to communicate their own wishes.
- Power of Attorney for Health Care – Exactly the same thing as a durable power of attorney, but applies only to health decisions if an individual is unable to make those decisions for himself or herself.
Other things to remember when it comes to Estate Planning
Everyone should have some type of estate planning in place as they advance through life. However, here are some other circumstances to consider when it comes to estate planning:
- Estate taxes - Estates with a value over the unified tax credit amount ($5,430,000 in 2015) will have Estate Tax implications
- Life Insurance - If purchased early in life it can be quite cost effective and provide protection for your family
- Business succession - Any business should have a plan in place for the transition to the new owner when the current owner dies. This is where corporate formation or certain types of business partnerships can play a valuable role in diminishing undue paperwork and tax expenses.
If you need legal help with Estate planning and would like to schedule a free consultation with our Estate Planning Attorney call our Tampa law office today or fill our our contact form. Your contact form submission will go directly to our Estate planning Attorney even if he is out of office. Please include the best time to return your call and a brief description of your estate planning needs.