Estate planning might sound like it is only for wealthy families. In fact, anyone with property they would like to pass on to loved ones and should have an estate plan. Yours can vary depending on your financial situation, family circumstances, and the type of property you want to pass along. A skilled attorney could create an estate plan tailored to your needs and goals.
If you are ready to think about what happens to your family and property after your death, contact a Pinecrest estate planning lawyer to prepare a plan that is right for you.
Why Estate Planning is Important
The simplest estate plan comprises a last will and testament, and perhaps a trust. If the person getting their estate planning in order has a minor child, the will could name someone to be their guardian and a trust could provide money for their support and education.
Regardless of whether there are minor children to provide for, the estate planning documents ensure that when someone dies, their property goes to the people of their choosing, and those people have access to it as quickly as possible.
Control Who Receives Property
A will is a fundamental tool of estate planning and allows a person to designate who receives their property.
The laws of intestacy apply if someone dies without a will. A Pinecrest estate planning attorney can explain what intestacy laws would require in a specific case, but property might not go to the person the deceased would have chosen to receive it.
For example, someone might die without a will, and their spouse and children survive. According to Florida Statute § 732.102, if the spouse shares no children with the decedent, the spouse gets all the property in the estate. However, if the decedent has children from another relationship, the spouse receives 50 percent of the estate and the decedent’s children get the other 50 percent.
Allow Immediate Access to Property After Death
Although a will is essential, property that passes through a will must go through probate. Probate is a court-supervised process to manage the estate, ensure the decedent’s debts get paid, and the decedent’s heirs receive their inheritance.
Families that were dependent on a decedent’s income might suffer hardship if that person dies and all their property must go through probate. Estate planning can ensure that loved ones have immediate access to cash and other assets.
Only assets held solely in the deceased person’s name must go through probate. Assets a family will need after a person’s death—such as a savings account or vehicle—could be held in trust, jointly or with a named beneficiary, so that it will pass to them immediately upon death. Most family homes would pass outside of probate to the spouse or children, even if the decedent’s name was the only name on the title.
Other Benefits of Estate Planning
Many estate planning documents include trusts, which are useful for specific purposes. Some forms of trust can reduce the taxes the heirs and estate must pay. Others can protect property from the decedent’s creditors.
One specific type of trust is the special needs trust. It allows someone to set aside funds to benefit a physically or mentally disabled person without disqualifying them from Medicaid benefits. Another form of special needs trust allows someone to fund a trust for themselves if they anticipate they will require Medicaid benefits because of a disabling disease or condition. An estate planning attorney in Pinecrest can explain the limitations and benefits of creating a trust.
Other important components of an estate plan include a health care proxy, durable power of attorney, and Living Will. These documents allow a person to designate someone to make decisions if they become incapacitated. They also allow the person to decide whether they wish to receive certain medical care at the end of life.
Work with a Pinecrest Estate Planning Attorney Today
Although most of us prefer not to think about end-of-life considerations, planning for the inevitable makes it easier on our loved ones. Estate planning also allows you to control what happens to your property after your death.
Work with a Pinecrest estate planning lawyer from The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a professional.