Do I need a Will?
Even if you have a trust in place that will control and manage your property upon your death, a Will is an essential component of every estate plan. A Will has three primary functions:
(1) a Will allows you to name a Guardian who will care for your children;
(2) a Will disposes of any property not held in trust, or all of your property, if you do not have a trust;
(3) a Will appoints a Personal Representative to administer your estate and ensure that the terms of your Will are carried out.
Every estate plan should include, at the very least, a simple Will.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a document in which you make a declaration regarding your desires pertaining to life-prolonging procedures.
Why do I need Estate Planning?
Proper estate planning allows YOU to control how your assets are managed and distributed upon your death. If you do not have an estate plan in place when you die, Florida State law determines who will receive your property and, if you have minor children, who will care for your children.
What are the components of a typical estate plan?
· Revocable A/B Trust
· Last Will and Testament
· Durable Power of Attorney
· Designation of Health Care Surrogate
· Living Will
Do I need Estate Planning even if I will not have to pay an Federal estate taxes?
Yes - estate planning is necessary to avoid probate, control distribution of your assets to those persons whom you desire to receive them, and appoint a Guardian for your minor children.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)?
A DPOA is a document in which you name someone to act as your attorney-in-fact, giving that person the same power and authority you have to deal with your personal, financial, business, investment, real estate and other matters. The DPOA becomes effective immediately upon execution and is effective until the moment of death. Even if you become incapacitated, your attorney-in-fact will be able to carry on your affairs in your place.
What is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate (HCS)?
A HCS is a document in which you name someone to act as your agent, either immediately or in the event of your incapacity, giving that person the same power and authority to deal with health-care matters and medical decisions on your behalf. Your agent only has the authority to act upon your incapacity.
What is a Revocable A/B Trust?
A Revocable A/B Trust is an entity (much like a corporation) that you establish now and to which you transfer your property so that the trust, rather than you, is the legal owner of your property. You retain a beneficial interest in the property and have all rights to the property that you had before transfer. While you are living, you will serve as the Trustee of the trust and will manage and control your property in your sole discretion. Upon your death, the person you designate as your successor Trustee (usually your spouse), will take over the duties of managing your property.
A trust allows you to avoid probate upon your death because you do not own the property - your trust does - and therefore, your trust can convey your assets to your heirs. The trust allows you to reduce, to the maximum extent possible, your Federal estate tax liability by fully utilizing your Applicable Credit ($12.06 million) as well as your unlimited marital deduction. Finally, a trust allows you to control the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries, under terms you establish in your trust, and to determine how your assets will be managed and by whom.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal means of transferring title to your assets upon your death. Because you are obviously not available to execute a deed or other conveyance documents, the Court, via the probate process, provides a means for conveying your property to your heirs. Probate can be costly, especially if litigation is involved, and can delay the distribution of your assets for one year or longer.