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The term “estate planning” makes some people think of something only wealthy people need. However, this is a myth. Almost everyone owns estate, and nearly everyone can benefit from estate planning. Just because your estate doesn’t look like someone else’s or doesn’t include what you think it should, doesn’t mean that you should be an active participant in your own estate planning.
An estate includes everything an individual owns. For example, your vehicle, checking and savings accounts, and even your jewelry and furniture are all a part of your estate. As of August 2022, Florida reports over 23,319,935 registered vehicles in this state. Considering that the estimated 2021 population of Florida was 21,781,128 and that many people likely own more than one car, you can still assume that a high number of Floridians own an estate, whether they realize it or not.
No matter the size or value of your estate, it’s essential that you decide what to do with it when you die. Since you can’t take it with you, and your family members can’t assume who gets what, you should highlight those wishes in a legal document such as a will or a living revocable trust. Look no further than a seasoned Riverview estate planning lawyer from our firm to help you with this task.
What Does a Riverview Estate Planning Attorney Do?
Riverview estate planning attorneys, also called estate law attorneys or probate attorneys, are experienced and licensed legal professionals with in-depth knowledge and understanding of Florida and federal laws that impact how your assets will be inventoried, valued, dispersed, and taxed when you die.
Our experienced Riverview estate planning lawyers can help with the following:
- Revocable living trusts
- Florida living trust
- Special needs trusts
- Avoiding probate
- Durable powers of attorney
- Estate planning for second marriages
- Protecting your children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance
- Planning for your minor children
- Leaving your house to heirs
- Disinheriting an heir
- Wealth transfer
- Tax planning
- Federal estate taxes
- Fiduciary services
The advantages of working with an estate planning attorney include:
- Drafting an individualized estate plan based on your specific needs and desires while providing you with the most comprehensive and valuable advice for your situation
- Ensuring that the decisions you make will comply with any applicable Florida and federal laws and are legally enforceable
- Preventing disputes between your children or other family members
- Having a resource for questions, concerns, changes, and any necessary updates to your will and trust
Wills and Trusts
Wills and trusts are two of the most common types of estate planning tools. As opposed to wills, trusts have the advantage of avoiding taxes, preventing certain aspects of probate, and limiting the chance of court challenges. However, they typically require the in-depth estate planning knowledge that a Riverview estate planning attorney can provide.
You should also note that estate planning isn’t a one-time thing; you can’t “fix it and forget it.” Instead, it’s a crucial step that needs to be revisited frequently. As any circumstances in your life change, you may want to check in with your attorney and adjust your estate planning documents. For example, the following types of situations might warrant a change to your will or trust:
- Having more children or more grandchildren
- Purchasing more assets
- The death of your spouse or personal representative
Frequently Asked Questions from our Clients
How Do I Sign a Legally Binding Will?
Wills must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of witnesses. Specific procedures must be followed. If there isn’t a witness or the steps aren’t followed, the will may be rendered invalid. Florida requires two witnesses to sign a will. A skilled Largo estate planning attorney can direct you on what steps should be taken with your will to ensure that it will be legally enforceable upon your death.
What is Probate Court?
When people die, their assets and debts must be managed in one way or another. The probate court oversees this process. The probate court judge’s job is to ensure that the decedent’s debts are paid and that their remaining assets are given to the proper beneficiaries. If the deceased person has a will or other estate planning tools, the probate court process is much quicker and easier on their chosen personal representative. The probate court makes the decedent’s financial situation a matter of public record, including the type and extent of their assets, debts, and who will receive their assets.
Can You Avoid Probate Court?
The estate of all adults who die with assets and debts must go through probate court. However, suppose you have taken steps to plan your estate, such as drafting a will. In that case, probate court is typically very different. The personal representative of your choosing will manage your estate according to the provisions outlined in your will. This makes the probate court process smoother, less expensive, and ends quicker.
What Does a Will Not Do?
A will doesn’t have the power or authority to govern the transfer of some kinds of assets, called non-probate property. Under title or probate laws, the non-probate property passes to someone other than your estate when you die. For instance, real estate and other assets with rights of survivorship pass automatically to the surviving owner. For example, an IRA or insurance policy with a named beneficiary passes to that named beneficiary no matter what it says in your will.
Let a Knowledgeable Riverview Estate Planning Lawyer Help Today
We strongly encourage you to contact us to explore the best ways to provide protection for yourself during your lifetime and for your loved ones after you are gone. Whether you are planning ahead or facing an abrupt crisis, our Riverview estate planning attorneys can help you draft a legal solution to protect you, your family, and your assets. At Mickey Keenan, PA, we always welcome the involvement of family members and advisors if you desire their participation in the planning process.
Call 813-871-1300 or contact us online today to learn more about how we can help you.