Effective estate planning in Florida entails taking care of all situations arising after your passing. Moving assets into a trust, acquiring life insurance, or changing beneficiary designations on your IRAs and insurance policies might be necessary. In such cases, you can get additional guidance from your estate planning attorney on what actions to take.
Typical estate planning documents include:
- A will specifies who should inherit your property and money upon your passing. Without your will, your possessions will immediately pass to your family under the state’s rules, which may not reflect your priorities.
- A trust manages the assets on behalf of the beneficiaries. Trusts are frequently created to safeguard assets, evade probate, or reduce taxes.
- In the event of your incapacity, powers of attorney enable someone else to handle your finances, make decisions, and sign a document on your behalf.
Estate planning is easy to put off, but when you make a plan for your family and business, you can be at peace knowing that you’ve taken the best possible care of both your company and your loved ones.
Estate Planning In Coral Gables & Miami FL
Don’t wait for the future to happen; make it happen. Start with estate planning and hit your goals with the help of an estate planning attorney.
Together, you can both develop a legal strategy to achieve your objectives, which may include:
- Maintaining your personal space and dignity.
- Having the ability to make choices regarding your health and finances while still able.
- Avoiding or reducing estate taxes and probate costs.
- Saving time and expense of a court-supervised guardianship by appointing a guardian before the need arises. This is especially helpful for families with minor children or family members with special needs.
Don’t try to play attorney by filling out forms you find online or at the office supply store. These are boilerplate forms and are not personalized for your situation and needs. There is also the considerable risk of mistakes while preparing the documents making your estate planning arrangements invalid.
Without a signature, estate plans are useless, and some documents, like wills, must be executed in the presence of two witnesses to be legally binding. For directions on witnessing, notarizing, or signing the documents, listen to experienced estate planning attorneys.
Get qualified legal counsel and invest in the future by doing things correctly the first time. They can advise you on Florida state laws regarding the validity of the will and its requirements.
Wills In Florida
Having a valid Florida will in place is crucial. The will lays out your desires on who gets your property after your death and how they will get it. You can trust that the estate planning attorney listens closely to your needs and concerns before recommending how to draft your will.
After death, your will goes to probate court to establish its authenticity and ensure your directives are followed.
What Happens If You Die Without A Will Or Intestate
Florida law will decide who gets your property and distribution if you pass away intestate or without a valid will. If you own property in Florida, the probate court will divide it among your heirs strictly based on familial connections. Without a will, your closest family members and relatives will automatically become your beneficiaries. Make sure the court doesn’t decide these matters for you by creating a will.
What Happens If You Die With A Valid Will
You can appoint your representative to administer your estate upon your death if you have a will. This person is responsible for gathering and protecting your assets, giving notice to and paying all debts, distributing property to your beneficiaries, and settling any outstanding taxes or other fees.
The representative may retain the services of a probate attorney, an accountant, or other professionals to help with the probate process. The probate court will want to hear from the personal representative regularly. A probate attorney can explain the process to you so you understand it and be able to prepare for it better.
It is recommended to review your will every three years or whenever there is a significant change in your finances, family, or medical status. Florida and federal laws are constantly evolving, so it is essential to update your will regularly.
Choosing the right tools for estate planning is crucial. Various tools are available to protect your assets and legacy when you pass away. Speak with your estate planning attorney to choose which tool suits your situation.
Types Of Living Trusts
Living trusts are commonly used in estate plans. The Florida Trust Code establishes rules for living trusts in the Sunshine State. Revocable living trusts can be changed, but you cannot modify an irrevocable one. Understanding the different types of living trusts can help you choose the one appropriate for your needs.
Once an irrevocable living trust is established, the grantor loses all control over the trust’s assets. The trust cannot be altered or revoked in any way. Irrevocable living trusts are less popular amongst estate planners because of their rigidity.
However, there are situations where irrevocable trust is the best option to achieve specific goals. These include:
To Lessen The Impact Of Estate Taxes
An irrevocable trust can lessen estate tax by removing assets from the grantor’s taxable estate. When assets are transferred into an irrevocable trust, they are no longer considered part of the grantor’s estate for tax purposes. This can lead to a reduction in the estate’s overall value and, subsequently, the amount of estate tax owed upon the grantor’s death. Here’s how it works:
Asset transfer: When the grantor transfers assets into an irrevocable trust, they essentially give up ownership and control of those assets. This means the assets are no longer part of the grantor’s taxable estate.
Tax-exempt growth: Assets held within an irrevocable trust can grow and generate income exempt from estate taxes. This increases the trust’s value without adding to the taxable estate.
Trust beneficiaries: The beneficiaries of an irrevocable trust receive the assets and any income generated by the trust, usually after the grantor’s death. Since these assets have already been removed from the grantor’s estate, they will not be subject to estate tax.
Lifetime gift tax exclusion: When assets are transferred into an irrevocable trust, they may be considered gifts to the trust beneficiaries. However, the grantor can use their lifetime gift tax exclusion to offset the gift tax that might otherwise be due.
Using this exclusion, the grantor can transfer significant assets into the trust without incurring gift tax liability.
Generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption: An irrevocable trust can also be structured as a generation-skipping trust, which allows assets to be transferred to beneficiaries more than one generation below the grantor (e.g., grandchildren).
Estate tax exclusion portability: For married couples, any unused portion of the estate tax exclusion of the first spouse to die can be transferred to the surviving spouse. This allows the surviving spouse to shield more of their estate from taxes, reducing the tax burden.
It’s important to note that irrevocable trusts come with certain limitations. Due to the complexities and potential tax implications involved in creating an irrevocable trust, consulting with an estate planning attorney or a tax professional is recommended to ensure the trust is structured in the most advantageous way possible.
Medicaid Eligibility Requirements
Applicants must meet certain requirements to qualify for financial aid from a government program like Medicaid. Making a trust irrevocable reduces the risk that the trust’s existence will affect its beneficiaries’ financial aid or housing subsidies.
Legal Safeguards Against Debt Collectors
The settlor and the beneficiaries of an irrevocable trust have greater protection from the settlor’s creditors and the beneficiaries’ creditors than those of a revocable trust because the irrevocable trust cannot be terminated. An irrevocable trust can be useful to shield assets from potential creditors.
As the name suggests, a revocable living trust can be terminated at any time. There’s more to “revocable” than just the option to dissolve the trust. Although the trust is the legal owner of the assets, the trust’s revocable nature allows you to continue making financial decisions on behalf of the trust.
With revocable living trusts, you, as the grantor, can have some options:
- Change any of the conditions of the trust.
- Move assets into or out of the trust.
- Change your beneficiaries, as well as the trustee and successor trustee.
Another common practice when establishing a revocable living trust is for the grantors to name themselves trustees. The following are some additional benefits of a living trust that you can set up anytime.
- Not having to deal with the probate process. When you pass away, your trust will automatically become the owner of the trust assets and will not need to go through probate.
- Optimizing privacy. By using a trust, you can maintain the privacy of your assets and their distribution to your beneficiaries.
- Contingency strategy. If you create a living trust, a successor trustee can take over the administration of the trust in the event of your mental or physical incapacity.
Revocable living trusts are estate planning tools because they allow you to control the assets you transfer to the trust within your lifetime. You should always seek the advice of a competent estate planning attorney when establishing a living trust. They have the experience and are highly knowledgeable to suggest the best option for you.
Estate & Probate Attorneys In Florida
The distribution of a deceased person’s assets under court supervision is known as probate. Probate is a legal procedure made available by Florida law. In addition to delaying the distribution of your assets to your loved ones, probate can consume time and resources, which can be very stressful over the months or years it may require to resolve an estate.
There are circumstances when the probate process is quick and painless for the surviving family members, but it can drag on for years in a worst-case scenario. Although you may have been led to believe that avoiding probate at all costs is the preferred course of action, there may be benefits to probate in certain circumstances.
How Does Estate Planning Work For Small Estates?
For small estates, states like Florida have tailored their probate procedures. These probate procedures may be more efficient, inexpensive, and time-saving than other estate planning tools, like living trusts. The two procedures heirs and beneficiaries can use are the “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration” and “Summary Administration.”
To be eligible for the Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration, the estate size is limited to the expenses for funeral and medical bills during the last 60 days when the decedent was still alive. If intestate, it must not be more than $10,000.
Surviving families can exempt certain assets from the estate size up to $20,000. Consult your estate planning attorney about what property Florida law allows.
For estates with less than $75,000 in value, heirs or beneficiaries can petition the probate court for a Summary Administration. Transferring assets and property is far quicker and less costly than the conventional probate process.
Pros & Cons Of The Probate Process
In some cases, especially for persons who have passed away intestate or with no last will, the probate process protects minor estates. In those circumstances, a step-by-step procedure is expected to occur and ensure that the right beneficiaries inherit a decedent’s property. Your estate planning attorney can guide you on the best option to take.
Additionally, if you need the financial means to complete estate planning, you can arrange for your estate to cover the fees of the probate procedure after your passing. For those who wish the disposition of their wealth to be known to the public, the probate process may also be advantageous. The execution of a will after someone’s passing makes the details public since wills are public records.
The probate process can occasionally be difficult, particularly if:
- No beneficiary could be found.
- A recipient is handicapped.
- The beneficiary is also the recipient of government benefits.
A full probate or formal administration is required if a Florida resident leaves probate assets valued at more than $75,000. The probate court can choose a representative and is responsible for fulfilling fiduciary obligations when handling the estate’s administration. Full probate can be lengthy and costly and last several months up to a few years.
That said, certain documents and courses of action are involved in estate planning and the probate process. Here are some of them.
Power Of Attorney
Establishing a power of attorney or POA is crucial to your estate planning strategy. It enables someone to take action representing the person legally. Depending on what is specified, this person might have the authority to make decisions regarding various issues, including real estate, money, investments, or medical care.
The type of power of attorney in Florida can vary according to your circumstances. But all of them must be signed in the presence of 2 witnesses and recognized before a notary public to be legally binding. Here are the different types of power of attorney:
General Power Of Attorney
You can give your agent wide-ranging power with a general power of attorney. General power of attorney is your best option if you want your agent to handle a broad range of decisions, such as handling your assets and managing your care. In addition, financial matters, such as banking, purchasing or selling property, and dealing with the government, can all be handled by your agent.
Limited Power Of Attorney
Limited power of attorney is used when you must delegate authority to an agent for a limited time and purpose. For instance, if you have to leave the country during the closing process, you can appoint a representative to handle everything on your behalf. When the time or reason for the authorization to act has passed, the power will also disappear.
Durable Power Of Attorney
In the case of a durable power of attorney, the authority you bestow upon your agent will remain in effect even if you later become incapacitated. This POA might be either broad or narrow in scope. The phrase “this durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal save as stated in Chapter 709, Florida Statutes,” must be included in the instrument if it is considered a durable power of attorney.
Estate planning involves the distribution of properties that may or may not be easily divided. That’s where property partition comes in.
What Is Property Partition?
Property partition is an owner’s right to divide their land into several parcels. If you own real estate with another person in Florida and want to split it up or sell it, you can do so under Florida laws. Suppose the assets at issue in a partition dispute can be divided into equal portions with equal value or divided under ownership interests. In that case, the Court may declare an equal share of the property.
When real property, such as a home, cannot be fairly divided, the court will often order its sale and distribute the revenue equitably or following the parties’ ownership interests. When one owner wants to split their property but can’t afford to buy out the other owner’s stake, property partition is a fair solution.
You need legal counsel to handle the partition process because it entails complex stages. Leave nothing to chance or wishful thinking; have it done properly with the guidance of a Florida property partition attorney. Call or visit The Estate Plan to talk to one of its partition attorneys.
For business owners, estate planning is a great way to ensure that the business is passed on to the right person upon the owner’s passing. Read on to learn how it works for business succession.
A lot is riding on your shoulders when you’re the owner and CEO of a thriving company. A responsible business owner must think about more than just the company’s day-to-day running. They must also plan for the eventuality that they cannot do so. To ensure the smooth continuation of operations, business owners and managers must prepare for the eventual transfer of control.
Family business owners may face challenges when incorporating family members in succession planning. On the one hand, it is in the interest of any business owner to see to it that the company’s requirements are met. However, in a multigenerational environment, family company owners seek to address the emotional requirements of the family.
Business succession attorneys concentrate on the connections between corporate law, tax law, and estate planning. By advising you on matters such as company structure, executive compensation, real estate acquisition, growth capital formation, and eventual exit transaction, business succession attorneys help business owners prepare for their enterprises’ sustainable growth and improvement. They prioritize coordinating their work with your aims and priorities throughout the process.
Hire An Estate Attorney Near You
If you’ve been putting off matters like business succession plans, creating trusts, and estate planning in Florida, it’s time to take action. With the Internet, finding services in any area is very easy. Most people find it helpful to use the words “best estate attorney near me” when searching for an estate planning attorney in their city.
However, there’s more to it than just picking the first result on Google’s results page. You need an estate attorney with proven efficiency and an excellent track record.
Our excellent team of estate attorneys at The Estate Plan in Florida handles everything from simple wills and powers of attorney to more complex estate plans, including trusts, guardianship arrangements, and more.
We strive to ensure your wishes are carried out exactly as you want them — especially if something unexpected happens. Visit The Estate Plan at our offices at 135 San Lorenzo Ave #750 Coral Gables, FL 33146, or give us a call at (305) 677-8489 to get started on your estate planning journey.