Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning
Death is a difficult topic to discuss. We understand. But worrying about what will happen to your loved ones after you are gone can also be troublesome. We can help relieve some of your concern now by working with you to create a personalized estate plan today.
To ensure that your assets are awarded to the specific people you choose, at the time you want, you need a customized estate plan created just for you by your estate planning attorney. For example, if you want your children to receive all of your money, but only after they turn 25, we can ensure that happens. We can also provide the legal documents that allow your loved ones to make decisions on your behalf should you ever become unable to make those decisions yourself.
Most adults, regardless of age, marital status, or wealth need some form of estate planning. Your personalized estate plan might include the following legal documents:
- Last Will and Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate
- Living Will
- Revocable (or Living) Trust.
At the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald, we create customized estate plans including the legal documents you need to ensure your intentions are respected when you can no longer provide for your loved ones personally. Call us today at (954) 580-3690 with any questions, or complete the easy form below and we’ll call you to set an initial consultation.
It is difficult to discuss, but if you die, who will get your assets? If you have minor children, who will raise them? Do you want your children to get all of your money when they turn 18, or do you want to set aside money for college, or for when they are able to be wiser with their inheritance? If you are incapacitated by an accident, what medical treatment do you want, or not want? Who can pay your bills if you are incapacitated?
An estate plan is critical to ensure that you can make these important decisions before the courts decide for you.
As an attorney that concentrates on estate planning, Samantha J. Fitzgerald can guide you through this very difficult process and make sure that you and your family are protected should tragedy happen.
A last will and testament (commonly referred to as a “will”) is a document signed by the decedent, witnesses, and a notary that meets the requirements of Florida law. In a will, the decedent can name the beneficiaries whom the decedent wants to receive the decedent’s probate assets, however, there are restrictions on disinheriting a spouse. The decedent also can designate a personal representative (Florida’s term for an executor) to administer the probate estate.
If a decedent has a valid will (referred to as dying “testate”), the will controls over the default provisions of Florida law. If the decedent did not have a valid will, or if the will fails in some respect, then Florida law dictates who inherits and who has preference to serve as personal representative. A will is also used to nominate guardians for your minor children.
A revocable trust is very similar to a will in the sense that it spells out who should receive your assets and who should be in charge of administering your estate (referred to as the “successor trustee”). One purpose of a properly funded revocable living trust is to avoid probate and to help manage your assets in case you are incapacitated. A revocable living trust does not avoid taxes or protect your assets from your creditors, but it can provide creditor protection to your beneficiaries and it can spare your beneficiaries the time and expense of probate. Trusts are especially important if you have children or other loved ones with disabilities or special needs. In these cases, a trust can help avoid the loss of government benefits.
When someone dies without a valid will, assets will pass to the decedent’s heirs – this is called dying “intestate.” The decedent’s “heirs” are the persons who are related to the decedent and described in the Florida intestate statutes. A misconception exists that probate is necessary when a decedent dies without a will. This is simply untrue. Probate is necessary when a decedent dies owning assets that require the court to transfer its title.