Boca Raton Estate Planning FAQs
Only an attorney who regularly practices in the fields of wills, trusts and estate planning is able to provide you with sound legal advice as you put your estate plan into place.
Often the expense incurred in retaining an attorney to prepare and help you put an estate plan into place is worth hundreds of times what you and your family would pay with no planning or poor planning. It would also avoid the financial and emotional nightmares that can occur with a poorly drafted (or improper) plan.
To own and manage your property, in a similar manner to a trust, but allowing additional tax planning techniques to be employed. Family limited partnerships are generally used for those who have large estates and who face potential heavy federal and state taxes, death, and inheritance taxes. A document appointing a health care surrogate and giving instructions to health care providers about the person’s wishes during the final stages of an illness, generally instructing providers not to interfere with the process of dying by using machines or other heroic measures to delay the natural course of a terminal illness. A legal instrument whereby one appoints and empowers another person as agent to deal with one’s property and personal and legal affairs. It remains effective even after the maker becomes incapacitated. Florida law authorizes both immediate and springing durable powers of attorney.
While each situation is different, an attorney who regularly practices in the field of wills, trusts, probate and estate planning is able to provide you with sound legal advice as you put your estate plan into place. Of equal importance is the need to annually review our clients’ estate plans and asset protection strategies to account for changes in law or the acquisition or disposition of assets. The costs of failing to periodically review and update are typically greater than the costs of keeping your estate plan and asset protection strategies current.
Don’t delay planning for your future and the future of your family. Please feel free to contact our office if you or a family member would like legal assistance to create a will, trust and other estate planning documents that are tailored for your needs, and would like to set a consultation to have your situation evaluated.
For client convenience, flexible scheduling is available including day, evening and weekend appointments. Home and hospital visits are also available. We look forward to assisting you with your estate planning needs
An estate plan should be updated when there are changes in the testator’s beneficiaries, property, or family status (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, etc.). This can be accomplished by executing a proper amendment (a codicil) to modify the existing will or by canceling (revoking) the existing will and then executing a new one. It is not advisable to update a will by writing or making changes on it because such revisions may be totally ineffective.
Be aware that a will can also be canceled to some extent if the testator is divorced after making the will. In such a case, gifts to the ex-spouse in the will, as well as appointments of the ex-spouse as executor or trustee, are void and will not be recognized. However, an ex-spouse who was designated during marriage as a beneficiary under the decedent’s life insurance policies is entitled to the life insurance proceeds upon the decedent’s death. A temporary order issued by a divorce court prohibiting a party to a pending divorce case from changing his or her will until the divorce is final is unenforceable.
The subsequent marriage of a single testator will not cancel his or her will. If a person who signs a will before marriage wishes to give all or any portion of his or her property to the new spouse, he or she should sign a new will. Otherwise, the property will pass according to the state law and provisions contained in the will that was signed before marriage, and the new spouse may receive less than the deceased spouse intended.
The Walser Law Firm can assist you with reviewing, updating and creating your will and other estate planning documents to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
An estate plan consists of one or more documents that set forth instructions. Some documents are used to control health care decisions, others control your property in the event of your incapacity, and still other documents will control the distribution of your property in the event of your death.
The first thing that must be decided is who you would like to appoint as your attorney-in-fact to make health care decisions and as your attorney-in-fact to handle your financial affairs. They may be the same person or persons, or different people on each document. Two people may be appointed to make decisions together on your behalf, or you may choose to have alternates.
Next, it must be decided who you would like to inherit your estate, also called beneficiaries, and in what shares under your last will and testament or trust. Consideration should also be given as to how the beneficiaries receive their inheritance. Should everyone receive his or her entire bequest in one sum, or should some individuals receive distributions over time? Also, if you have concerns about creditors or saving estate taxes for a beneficiary, it may be beneficial to leave bequests in further trusts for beneficiaries. As part of your last will and testament you must also appoint a personal representative or co-personal representatives who will administer your estate. This includes hiring an attorney to represent the estate, collecting your assets, paying your debts and taxes and distributing your assets to the beneficiaries. If you create a trust then you must appoint a trustee or co-trustees who will make discretionary distributions of income and principal to your loved ones.
A will used in conjunction with a Revocable Living Trust to dispose of any property titled in the decedent’s name alone at the time of death which was not transferred to the trust. The pour-over will also revokes all prior wills, but unlike traditional wills it does not contain detailed dispositive provisions; rather it directs distribution of all individually owned property to the trustee of his or her trust. The trust instrument contains detailed instructions relating to the distribution of the property. Like all wills, a Pour-Over Will must be admitted to probate to be effective
A will declares who shall inherit an individual’s assets (the beneficiaries) and who shall be responsible for distributing them to such beneficiaries (the personal representative). For young parents and couples, a will can also be used to appoint a guardian for their minor children and a trustee to manage the children’s money until they are old enough to handle it themselves. A will only becomes effective upon your death, and after it is admitted to probate.
You should have an estate plan if you:
- Care about who inherits your property;
- Care about your health care treatment;
- Are the parent of minor or disabled children; and/or you want to avoid the public proceedings of a possible guardianship and probate.
A properly designed estate plan may:
- Provide instructions for your care and that of your loved ones in case of your disability;
- Be effective if you move to or own property in another state;
- Avoid probate;
- Keep your affairs private and confidential;
- Control all your property, including pensions and life insurance;
- Allow you to leave explicit instructions for the care of your loved ones;
- Create protective trusts for your young children, special needs children, adult children, and grandchildren; and,
- Provide federal estate tax planning and save professional fees and court costs.
With the help of a Boca Raton estate planning attorney at the Walser Law Firm, you can create an estate plan that will protect you and your family from guardianships, probate, and that will allow you to do valuable tax planning.
An estate consists of all the property a person owns or controls, whether in his or her sole name, held in a partnership, in a joint ownership arrangement, or through a trust, and all other monies that would be generated on the person’s death, such as through life insurance.
An estate includes:
- Life insurance, pension benefits, annuity contracts, IRAs, all debts and obligations owed to others real property and things attached to it (houses, buildings, barns, etc.);
- All personal property (including automobiles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, stock options, cash, furniture, jewelry, art, collectibles, etc.);
- All businesses and business interests (sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, joint ventures, and the goodwill, inventory, tools and equipment, accounts receivable, and other business property, etc.);
- Powers of appointment (the right to direct who gets someone else’s property); and,
- Claims you have against others.